Author Topic: Worlds Collide  (Read 13782 times)

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Offline chrislocke2000 (OP)

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Re: Worlds Collide
« Reply #15 on: September 29, 2013, 12:52:45 PM »
2059 September

Eta Cassiopeiae
Dominic Shah almost leapt from his bunk as he was startled awake by a thunderous roar arcing across the sky that left even the sealed panes of the hab units rattling across the colony.  Immediately fearing another mech invasion Shah grabbed his data pad and with shaking fingers tried to locate the connection code for Commander Buckley, the current OC of the PDCs.

After what seemed an age Shah finally managed to bring up the details and get a call through. The call was answered almost immediately and Shah was greeted by the unexpectedly grinning face of the Commander. “Good morning Administrator, I trust you didn’t receive too rude an awakening from our latest arrivals”? “What”? croaked Shah in response.

“My apologies Administrator please let me explain. You will be delighted to hear that we have just taken delivery of two of the Navy’s most experienced and renowned fighter squadrons – the Kestrels and the Buzzards. What is more, I can also report that the men have been pulling double shifts and have literally just a few hours ago completed the installation of the detection net. We now have a fully operational defensive grid on the planet”.

Shah felt himself gawping at the Commander and shut his mouth with a click of teeth. “That is excellent news Commander, perhaps next time you might like to provide a little more warning”? Outside Shah could hear the wail of sirens and shouting coming from the streets. “Seeing as the Navy is up and about, might I suggest that you rouse a couple of the garrison units to try and calm the millions of people your fly boys have just scarred the living hell out of. I will see you in my office at 0900 promptly for a fuller debrief”.

Before Buckley could respond Shah shut the link. Dumping the pad back on the floor where he had only recently rescued it, Shah crawled back into to bed. With some luck he might salvage a few more hours sleep before he had to go and placate the population yet again.

Kappa Ceti
Thornton looked on as the troop shuttles disgorged another battalion of the TFAA’s finest.  At the current rate the rest of the division would be unloaded within the next eight hours. He had tentatively set H hour at 0430Z on 30th September. It didn’t give the newly arrived troops much time at all to get in position but he wanted to hit the Union before they had a chance to re-organise in response to the latest drop. At least they had decided not to try and attack his own positions whilst the troop ships were away for the past month.

2059 October

Sol – Fleet Command
Captain (formally Commodore) Shaw was sat in the operations centre pouring over the latest set of projections and plans prepared by his staff. With the refitting of the Navy’s older ships with newer engines now in full swing and the delivery of the bulk of the Union’s old military shipyards; the time was fast approaching when the Navy would need to decide on a strategic direction for the next long term plan.

Shaw leaned back in his chair, massaging his temples and closing his eyes as he did so. He had been at the review for almost three days but was little closer to coming up with a viable, politically acceptable plan which he was comfortable presenting to Shots then when he had started.

Whilst the refit of the carriers was going smoothly, thanks in large to the previous Neutronium crash and resulting freeze on changes in design, the more modern destroyers and light cruisers with their multiple variants were proving far harder to schedule. The best he could come up with at the moment was a rotation of vessels between the carrier groups to free up ships of the same class for refit before retooling was required. This would greatly speed up the process but would leave deployed carrier groups incomplete for periods of time. It would also completely muck up the maintenance cycle across the task groups which would undoubtedly cause more issues later down the line.

The long term plan was proving to be an even thornier issue. Whilst the carrier platform had proven to be incredibly effective over the past twenty years it was beginning to place an increasing strain on the logistics back bone of the Federation as evidenced by even the limited engagements with the Mechs, Union and Followers. If the core carrier doctrine was to be continued and expanded on the Federation would need to make significant additional investment in ordnance facilities and colliers. That was likely to be unpalatable to the politicians who were keen to push broader economic growth.

Additionally the Navy’s past practice of moving their obsolete fighters to provide coverage to the Federation’s various colonies was looking to Shaw like being an increasingly misguided move. The more limited range and fire controls of the Hammerheads meant that they would have little hope of mounting multiple sorties against any attacking fleet before it reached the colony and they were increasingly at risk of having to enter the enemies own engagement range in order to launch their missiles. That meant that realistically the Navy needed to divert more resources to the replacement of all land based fighters which in turn would mean current facilities would not be able to meet the demand for new carrier based fighters. Again that meant further unpalatable investment in military infrastructure.

Finally and probably most challenging was how the Navy continued to provide an effective defence to its’ widely distributed home planets and colonies. Experience had already shown that even with vessels based in neighbouring systems they would, more often than not, be unable to respond in time to an attack. In many instances the fleets were acting as a deterrent through the threat of retribution more than an interventionist role. It was clearly impossible to base a combat effective force at every planet, which to Shaw’s mind meant the only option was to create an extensive early warning system throughout every system that was within two to three jumps of a colony. Manned EW platforms were simply untenable so that left buoys. Even then this would clearly be another massive undertaking requiring additional ships and further ordnance production capacity.

Sighing, Shaw gave his temples one last rub before bending back down to the task at hand.

Sol – Mars Shipyards
Rear Admiral Shots was in the final stages of completing a long grinding tour of the new shipyard facilities. In truth he had had no requirement to see them but his press officer had insisted that he spend more time away from HQ being seen by both the crew and the Federation’s citizens. Consequently, whilst he maintained a smile and asked the usual range of harmless questions of the staff he met along the way, his mind was really focused on the evolving problems out in the Union sector.

Shots now recognised that his original timetable for the invasion of the Followers Home world had been woefully over optimistic. Latest reports from Major General Thornton indicated that the TFAA were again meeting stiff resistance from the last of the Union’s troops and that the operation was likely to take several months to complete. Much as he wanted to rescind Commodore Thorpe’s orders and get on with the invasion he knew he couldn’t undermine her without some serious long term repercussions and he needed all the allies he could find. He was therefore wrestling with the idea of ordering an interdiction of the Followers system to destroy their current fleet, block any commercial ships from delivering material to the planet and preventing the build-up of new vessels.

He was pretty sure he would be able to keep the carrier group on station in the system for 6 to 8 months without the need to resupply them. That should be more than enough to allow for further delays in the mop up in Kappa Ceti and would allow him to announce the commencement of the operation now giving him some breathing space with Parliament. What he really needed to do was to get the ops to running the simulations to make sure it would work. Still smiling, Shots silently urged his hosts to hurry up and get the tour done with.

GJ 1065
Colonel Foster stood at the edge of one of the ruined construction factories that had been destroyed in the fighting with the Mechs. It was two weeks since the infantry had declared the  last of the Mechs dealt with, however she was still unable to get back to work. Below her the infantry were back, working methodically through the remains of the various drones making sure they were completely destroyed. There had already been a number of instances where apparently shut down drones had sprung back into life causing a number of casualties amongst the engineers. Consequently Foster had had to take a back seat again whilst the Infantry cleared the dig of all of the drone remains.

Not that there wasn't other work for the engineers to get on with. Several installations had been badly damaged in the fighting which needed making safe, not to mention the further repairs to the Union's hab units and packing up two more of the huge research facilities for shipment back to Luyten 1305-10. The trouble was all of that work took her and her teams away from their passion of unearthing new discoveries in the alien ruins.

Foster took one last look at the excavation before making her way back towards the command tent. Hopefully she could get the structural work completed in the next few days so they could get on with the excavation once the Infantry gave the all clear. Foster was soon lost in her thinking as she wandered along the streets, absently scratching her still healing arm.

Kappa Ceti
“Sir, Minotaur will be over the horizon in approximately two minutes, expect to re-establish comms in just under five”. “Very well sergeant”, responded Thornton, “as soon as you have established contact please send the priority request”.

Thornton went back to his pacing whilst he thought through the last months actions and their situation. The first few weeks of the battle had gone well with limited losses experienced by his troops and substantial gains made. He had not however been able to bring any decisive victories to bear given his limited man power leaving him unable to effectively pin the enemy.

The situation had however turned for the worst about two weeks ago when two brigades had strung themselves out trying to encircle several Union battalions. It was exactly what the Union had been waiting for, enabling a swift counter attack that had left the TFAA with four badly mauled battalions and the loss of their marginal advantage over the Union. Since then the Union forces had counter attacked on a number of occasions leaving further heavy casualties on both sides.

The invasion was rapidly turning into one of heavy attrition, one that the TFAA could not afford to fight if they were to undertake the invasion of Delta Trianguli any time soon. The situation was being further aggravated by the slow speed of the TFAA’s troop transports – latest estimates gave it another 80 days before his third assault infantry division could get to them.

Thornton was broken from his revere by his communications sergeant speaking, “Sir, link established, I have Commander Hodgson on”. “Thank you sergeant, please put him through”, responded Thornton.

“Commander Hodgson, good day to you. I’m uploading my latest sitrep for immediate transmittal to Navy command and Earth HQ. I will tell you now that I’m requesting release of your ships for fire missions on the Union forces. We simply don’t have the man power to dig them out without further heavy losses. I expect that you will want to verify any orders with Rear Admiral Shots so please make the necessary arrangements. If orbital strikes are not approved we will be pulling back to defensive positions until further reinforcements arrive. Thornton out”.

Thornton immediately went back to his planning board. Not giving Hodgson a chance to respond would not exactly endear the man to him but he was in no mood to discuss the situation and right now he needed to work out how to minimise further casualties.

2059 November

Sol – Navy Command
Rear Admiral Shots sat at his desk, in front him his display screen was scrolling through the orders he had just prepared for Thornton and Miller. They weren’t orders he was particularly pleased to be issuing but were probably the best he could do in the circumstances.

Parliament had been in uproar when they were made aware of not only the substantial delays in dealing with the Followers but also the poor performance of the cream of the TFAA. Thornton’s request for an orbital strike had been point blank refused whilst others had expressed grave concerns over his apparent aversion to aggressively engaging with the enemy in accordance with his orders. Few seemed to grasp what they were actually asking of their troops.

The upshot of it all was that he needed to instruct Thornton to continue engaging with the Union troops and to order Miller to initiate phase 1 of Operation Head-start. It meant that the men of the TFAA were likely to incur heavier casualties whilst the ships of Carrier group Bravo were going to be exposed for months longer than necessary. No, he didn’t like the plans one little bit but if he was going to continue to have a voice in parliament and help the longer term development of the Federation’s forces he was going to have to put these ones through.

After one final read through, Shots hit send.

Kappa Ceti
Thornton finished reading Shots’ orders for the second time before standing up to address his command staff. Inside he was fuming and it was a testament to his self-control that he was able to maintain his normal outwardly calm persona.
“Listen in everyone”, began Thornton, “orders are back in from Earth, we are to continue to press the Union’s forces whilst we wait for the 3rd Division to arrive. I know many of our units have suffered a number of casualties in this battle to date but we can’t afford to let their forces re-group; especially not after all we have already achieved to date. The Union forces continue to demonstrate themselves to be both a tenacious and wily, they make us pay for every inch of ground we take and ruthlessly exploit any weaknesses in our lines”.

“However, we no longer have to accept this state of affairs. From now on we are going to take a more measured approach to operations, we will creep forward as slowly as necessary, forcing them to make the errors and meeting us on our own terms alone. With a change in tempo we can frustrate the enemy, forcing them to retain their full alert state and stopping them recovering from the casualties we have already inflicted to date.

I want a full O group at 0745Z with orders dispatched to every battalion commander by 0600Z. We have regrouped our forces by 1800Z and ready for the change in operations by 2100Z. I want an 8 hour notice to move out in the next 15 minutes and preliminary orders for my review in the next three hours. Now let’s get to work”.

Luyten 1305-10
Miller sat in her command chair watching the task group break orbit. Fortunately she would have the best part of several weeks to finalise her plans for the invasion of Delta Trianguli. Following a brief exchange of messages with Shots she had at least been able to procure the attachment of Strike Group Bravo to support the initial gate assault and to secure the jump point. She had not however had any luck in getting Shots to release further carriers to support her. That was particularly irking her given how reticently she had allowed the TFS Princeton to be detached from her task group to redeploy several fighter wings. Miller could only hope that the Followers had not been able to use the last few months since their last visit to substantially improve the systems defences.

Sol – London
Carter was pleased to see that the invasion was finally getting under way. The continuing complaints from the under staffed Martian shipyards, despite the fact that he had redirected the whole of the Federation’s colony ships to resolving the issue, was becoming tiresome. Hopefully the news of the invasion would finally get it out of the headlines and stop Parliament breathing down his neck. Also, with the fuel harvesters now back in orbit and producing in Gliese 674 he now had the chance to move the tugs back to Luyten 1305-10 where they could stand ready to snatch any shipyards from the Followers.

Operation Head-Start

Iota Persei
Miller was once again at her command chair on the bridge. The carrier group had rendezvoused with Strike Group Bravo approximately two hours ago and both task groups were now hanging in space 42 million kilometres from the Delta Trianguli jump gate. In a few short minutes the light jump cruisers and destroyers would detach from the task group to form the assault squadrons whilst the carriers hung back. Unlike the previous recon in force, the whole re-constituted task force would then make its way in system, engaging and destroying any ships en-route. Miller glanced at the mission clock, H minus 55 seconds and counting.

Miller thumbed her comms switch “This is Commodore Miller, in a few short moments we will commence operations to finally deal with the continued aggression of the Followers. This was a fight that Federation did not want, a fight that we endeavoured to avoid, to try and resolve. Yet despite our efforts the Followers have insisted on taking the path to conflict and war. Today we are going to show them the error of their decision, that the Federation is not to be crossed, that the resolve of our forces is more than up to the task. Today we show them that the Federation Navy is more than up to the task of stopping them in their tracks. I have absolute faith that all of you will do what is necessary to help bring this war to a swift and decisive conclusion. Miller out".

Delta Trianguli

14th November 22:33
The two temporary task groups made up of the ships Carthage, Gambia, Formosa, El Salvador, France and Galicia complete the jump into Delta Trianguli. Conscious of the impact of the jump on their sensors the two temporary task groups immediately break from the jump gate to take up a position 20Mkm in system.
Five minutes later no contacts have been picked up and the crews of the two task groups relax a little. Carthage immediately heads back to the jump gate to signal the rest of the group that they are free to jump through.

15th November 00:14
Strike Group Bravo completes the jump into Delta Trianguli and immediately moves back to the gate in order to take up its’ defensive duties.

15th November 05:23
Miller’s carrier group joins with the two temporary task groups and starts to make its’ way in system towards the Followers home world on the planet A-II.

16th November 19:08
Miller is sat eating dinner in the ward room when she finally gets the call she has been waiting for for the past day. “Commodore, we’ve just picked up the four Tiera class vessels on an intercept course. Reciprocal heading shows they have come from the home planet”.

“Thank you Ensign, I shall be up to the bridge shortly, in the meantime please contact the Breton and Casablanca and let them know I intend to use their squadrons to engage and destroy the enemy vessels. Miller out”.

Fifteen minutes later the four squadrons of Starfury fighters streaked towards the hostile contacts at a combined closing speed of almost twenty thousand km/s.

17th November 01:53
The four squadrons reach engagement range and immediately launch 5 salvoes of missiles at each vessel. Experience from previous engagements in Iota Persei has shown the Followers’ ships to have very limited defensive measures leading Miller to believe that this would be more than sufficient to destroy them. With the missiles inbound the fighters continue to close with the hostiles, ready to fire their three reserves volleys if needed.

Just over thirteen minutes later Miller is proven to have been unnecessarily conservative with her estimates of how much punishment The Followers’ ships could take. All four are destroyed by less than 3 salvoes each whilst sensor data indicates they had only a single layer of armour. Clearly the ships had sacrificed all defences in order to achieve their speed.

Miller immediately recalls the fighters to refuel and rearm. From the last recon there was likely to be a more substantial although slower force further in system and she was keen to make contact with them as soon as possible.

17th November 14:17
Miller didn’t have to wait long, little more than 12 hours later the watch officer on board TFS Carthage notified the fleet of eight new contacts. “Commodore, data in from the Carthage shows six Kalevala, two Hiisi and one Loviatar class vessels closing at 2789 km/s. All ships except for the Loviatar class mass 6,450 tons; the Loviatar is a big one - 12,800 tons. We are not currently detecting any active sensor emissions from the vessels”.

“Very well Lieutenant, please instruct the Breton, Casablanca and Charger to launch a full strike. Bring all ships to action stations. Please also place the Bushmaster and Copperhead on standby for rescue operations”, responded Miller.

Miller sat back, whilst she knew it would be almost five hours before the fighters reached firing range it was difficult not to stay transfixed on the tactical plot.

17th November 20:37

Miller is deep in thought considering where she is going to stage her fleet whilst waiting for the troop ships when she is abruptly interrupted by the blaring of claxons. “Lieutenant report!” shouted Miller.

“New contacts, bearing 156 degrees, range 36.3m km, speed 4000 km/s. They are on an intercept. Cross section ping indicates 1000 ton ships, class not previously identified ma’am” came back the watch officer.

“All ships, all ships dead stop. Get me commander Fleming, I need to know when they expect to be able to achieve a firing solution on those ships and tell the independence I want to see her alert fighters in space in the next two minutes” responded Miller who was working hard to hide her shock to the crew and keep her tone balanced.

It took Fleming less than 10 seconds to come back. “Commodore, those ships are too small for our fire controls, we won’t have a firing solution until approximately 3mkm out”. Fleming’s voice was strained as he struggled with the effects of the massive deceleration of the fleet which not even the inertial compensators could fully mask. Miller unconsciously clenched her fists. How the hell had they managed to miss those ships on their last recon?
Miller quickly banished the thought from her mind. The Navy had lost a number of vessels, including two carriers to hit and run attacks from FACs in the past but she had no intention of allowing the Followers to add to that tally. With her main fighter squadrons were well out of position and the screening destroyers unable to engage, her only option then was to use the interceptors to take them down.

“All ships come to a bearing of 240 degrees, execute immediately. Independence, get those vessels out of my sky. All crews to battle stations”. Twenty seven minutes later the two squadrons of interceptors – the Night Owls and Peg Leg Petes report reaching engagement range and immediately commence firing their entire ordance at the rapidly closing hostiles.

Two minutes later with the missiles streaking towards the hostiles the two squadrons turn and burn for the Independence to refuel and rearm. Meanwhile on the bridge of the Egypt Miller watched the missiles track inbound whilst silently urging them onwards.

At 21:10 exactly the interceptors’ missiles slam into the Followers’ ships. Multiple explosions are detected and despite the low yield warheads of the missiles, which were designed around engaging enemy fighters, most of the hostiles are destroyed. As the sensors resolve the interference from the explosions its apparent that eight vessels have been destroyed, four are dead in the water and only two continue to close with the fleet. Miller and the whole of the crew breathe a collective sigh of relief.

The relief is somewhat short lived however when the Independence reports that it is unable to rearm its’ interceptors. The somewhat garbled message that comes back indicates that a logistics muck up months ago back in Sol has left the Independence loaded with anti-ship missiles which are not compatible with the interceptor’s rail launchers.

Miller reacts immediately by ordering the six destroyer escorts to detach from the fleet and engage the remaining hostiles.

17th November 22:43
Having finally closed to engagement range the TFS Finland launches a salvo of 6 Harpy Mk5 ASMs at each of the two remaining FACs. Minutes later both vessels are torn apart by the heavy missiles. Commander Fleming, on board the Finland, notifies Miller that he intends to continue towards the wrecks of the other vessels and destroy the disabled ships with energy weapon fire.

With the immediate danger passed Miller approves the action before returning her focus to the six other fighter wings which had just completed their initial launches against the main hostile fleet.

Just two minutes later the fighters report missile interception of the hostiles with complete success. Once more the Followers appear to have had no missile defence with every missile fired impacting on the hostiles. The result is the total annihilation of the fleet with many ships torn apart by internal magazine explosions.
Miller looks on grimly; this wasn’t a victory, more a cull.

By 00:11 the destroyers have completed the destruction of the remaining FACs and have begun rescue operations. Miller in turn detaches the Bushmaster to pick up the survivors from their initial engagement before standing the crews back down and heading to her own bunk for some rest.
19th November 07:11

The carrier group reaches Miller’s assigned stand-off position and immediately launches a full strike of six fighter wings towards the Follower’s home planet and its’ orbital platforms. Miller is relieved to see that no further platforms have been built since their last visit.

The Followers once more show that their defences are woefully inadequate when the entire wave of missiles reaches their targets unopposed, eliminating all of the orbital defences in a single strike.

With the primary mission objective achieved Miller takes stock of her position. Whilst she has used more than half of her carriers’ ordnance the task group has expended almost none of its ASMs or AMMs and remains well stocked with both fuel and maintenance supplies. Despite the issues with the interceptors the initial phase of the operation has been a resounding success for the Federation. Now all she had to do was hang on to her position whilst the TFAA wrapped up its efforts in Kappa Ceti and got themselves over to her.

Back on Kappa Ceti
Thornton was busy looking through the latest reports from his battalion commanders. Against all expectations it appeared that his revised tactics were having a demonstrable impact on the course of the battle. Over the course of the last month the Union troops had shown themselves to be largely inflexible in the advance, enabling the TFAA troops to inflict heavy casualties on them. Casualties amongst his own two divisions were still mounting but nowhere near the rate of the Union.
Latest estimates showed his force ratio to now be above two to one which gave him more options. He had already been able to pin and destroy to enemy units as a result of being able to free up some men across the narrowing front.

Whilst his relief troops remained almost 55 days out the situation on the ground was looking substantially better. In fact, if the battle continued as it had over the past twenty days or so he might not actually need them after all.

Offline Beersatron

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Re: Worlds Collide
« Reply #16 on: September 29, 2013, 10:25:14 PM »
Another great chapter, keep it up!

Offline chrislocke2000 (OP)

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Re: Worlds Collide
« Reply #17 on: October 11, 2013, 05:10:52 PM »
2059 December

Delta Trianguli – 1st December
Less than 12 days after the last of the orbital facilities were destroyed Miller’s task group detects the launch of a new Suma class 6450 ton vessel by the Followers. Within the hour the ship has broken orbit on an intercept course with the carrier group. Miller is incredulous, the captain and crew of the ship must know that they are vastly outnumbered and out gunned. Could they really be that aggressive or blindly obedient to their superiors though Miller.
Putting the more philosophical considerations aside and conscious of her dwindling stocks of ASMs for the fighters, Miller decides to allow the vessel to close to engagement range with the destroyers. Previous engagements involving the Suma class has shown it to have the characteristic lack of armour of most Followers’ ships. Miller therefore assigns just two destroyers. Less than 24 hours after its’ launch the Suma class vessel is destroyed.

Lieutenant Commander Natasha Sanders, captain of the survey vessel known simply as Charlie or ‘the little c’, is sat in her command chair waiting for the initial sensor readouts to start coming in. A veteran survey vessel commander, Sanders has learned the hard way just how dangerous uncharted space can be and no longer launched head first into a new survey mission.

Little c had just completed the jump through an uncharted point in the EG 453 system, a system that was in turn connected to GJ 1065 – the Federations key archaeological dig and site of the new Union colony.

Finally the officer of the watch spoke up “Captain, initial readings indicate that we have just jumped into Anderseriks. The system is coming up in our data base as one identified from captured Mech planetary data. We have red flag for possible hostiles”.

When don’t we have a red flag for possible hostiles thought Sanders. “Very well Ensign, bring us to a full stop and inform engineering I want the jump engine re-spooled and ready to go as soon as possible. Let’s wait for the optical scan to complete before we do anything else”.

“Aye aye Captain” responded the ensign. Moments later the ensign looked up from his plot. “Captain” he started with a somewhat less well composed voice than before, “optics are picking up a large number of wrecks around the inner planet and asteroids. We’re showing seven wrecks estimated to be in the 15,400 ton range, one 22,000 tonner and four 7,700 tons”.

 “Put it up on my plot please, ranges and bearings to” responded Sanders far more calmly.
“Yes Ma’am. Ranges are 2.3bkm and 2.4bkm on bearings of 26% and 20% respectively. We are 2.1bkm from the nearest celestial”.
Sanders looked over her plot for a short while before responding. “All crew, this is the captain, we have identified a large number of wrecks in system indicative of heavy Mech activity. We will therefore retire to GJ 1065 where I will send details to Navy command. Whilst we are waiting for the jump drive to spool I want all crew to remain at stations. I will be instigating emissions reduction plan Alpha in 15 minutes which will stay in place until we jump out. Take the chance to get some hot food down you now. Sanders out”.

Luyten 1305-10
Laura Bolton stood, perched against the edge of her desk, listening to her advisor group run through the current weeks update. By all accounts things were going pretty well. Factory production remained stable and, at least in the short term, they had been able to deal with the mineral issues. The planet now had a reasonable stock of missiles with which to bunker the defensive silos and they had more fuel then she knew what to do with.
The only downside was the raising pressure from the civilians to further improve the defensive measures in the system. Clearly they remained unsettled from the Federation’s own invasion of the planet. The departure of some of the key carrier groups and attendant vessels looks like it had been interpreted by many as the Federation abandoning them. The old frigates simply were up to the task of convincing the population that the Federation still meant business.

They had already had to police a number of significant demonstrations and things were starting to turn uglier again. Clearly she was going to have to put more pressure on the Navy to increase its’ presence in the system. In fact they could potentially release the remaining military shipyard in orbit for restart so the planet could at least develop their own defences better. Politically she knew that one was going to be a tall order but she at least had to try.

Kappa Ceti
Thornton was busy working his way through the latest reports from his front line commanders. He was getting consistent reports that the Union troops had managed to overreach themselves in their rush to retake the ground the Federation had recently given up.

In fact, a particularly decisive engagement with the Union in one sector meant that he now had more free troops to spare and the change to reform several brigades for offensive duties. Whilst it was still early days he could sense the tide of the battle swinging back in the favour of the TFAA with casualty rates down for them but way up for the Union.

For once Rear Admiral Shots is back down on Earth, but yet again he has been forced to attend yet another ceremony. This time it was at the Federation’s key fighter construction facilities based close to the old Indian city of Mumbai. As ever the heat and humidity were oppressive whilst his less than practical dress uniform meant that he was undoubtedly in for another uncomfortable day.

In less than half an hour the 256th Mk1 Starfury would be running off the production line. It would be the last of the current class of fighter to be produced and meant that all four carrier groups could now be equipped with the considerably more developed fighters compared to the old Hammerheads.

It also meant that the factories would soon be able to begin construction on the new, even more advanced Mk 2 starfuries with the scout and tanker variants. All he needed now were some more modern carriers to base them from.

2060 January

Having finally received the all clear from the infantry, Colonel Foster was, when the call came in back where she liked most neck deep in the plumbing of an ancient piece of machinery. “Colonel, sorry for interrupt you but thought you might want to listen in on a broadcast we’ve just received. One of the survey vessels jut jumped back in system, seems like they’ve just run into Mech central just a couple of jumps out from here. They are calling for the cavalry right now”.

“No need to apologise sergeant”, replied Foster, “patch me into the broadcast. I’ll wrap up here and head back over in about fifteen minutes. See if you can find out any more information on this system they’ve found”. “Yes Ma’am”. After a few moments of static the sound of the survey vessel’s captain came over the comm. As she listened to the details Foster began to rush through her clean up before grabbing a scooter to head back in. Before long she was roaring through the largely empty streets of the old colony at a perilously fast rate to make it back to command as soon as possible.

By all accounts this was indeed likely to be one of the most significant finds in the Federation’s history of space exploration, potentially surpassing even the huge finds on GJ 1065. With the prospect of a new system back out on the fringe, new planets to explore and discoveries to uncover Foster firmly intended to be one of the first to get back out there. It was likely only a matter of time before the Navy sent a task group to clear the system and once that had been achieved the civilians would be in there in their droves, eager to capitalise on potential Mech technology. If she was going to get out there ahead of the pack she was going to have to pull a lot of strings and fast.

Luyten 1305-10
Sat in high orbit above the Union’s old home world Commodore Thorpe listened to Lieutenant Commander Sanders’ report on the newly discovered system of Anderseriks. With her own fleet and that of Miller’s already tied up on operations there wasn’t any question of being able to support them with her own task group. Any forces would need to come from Sol but that would leave Earth itself less well protected. She certainly didn’t envy Shots when that one made it back home.

Thorpe quickly dictated a response to het data pad to send back to Sanders before compiling a lengthier update to Shots. Incidents like these showed just how stretched the Navy was out here and just why they needed reinforcements.

Shots had assembled his whole operations team to discuss the response to Sander’s broadcast. The whole thing had already managed to leak to the press and Carter was back in parliament whipping up a storm regarding the safety of the Federation’s citizens and the need to act. He therefore needed to come up with the Navy’s response as soon as possible. Unfortunately that was easier said than done.

Whilst carrier group Alpha had undergone the engine upgrades for almost all of its vessels and now stocked a full complement of Starfuries it remained without an effective anti fac detection sensor and was thus susceptible to any Mech fac strikes. His only alternative, carrier group Charlie did have the necessary sensor system but it still had several ships in refit and had not yet operated as a single task group. Either way it would also mean stripping Earth and the surrounding systems down to a single carrier group for protection.

Given the need to try and come up with the ‘least worst’ solution Thorpe had decided to involve his broader team as they had better insight into the intricacies of the current fleet deployments and limits. Wrapping the large conference table with his knuckles Shots called the meeting to order. It was going to be a long and likely painful process so the sooner they got on with it the better.

Kappa Ceti
After another month of heavy fighting Thornton was back at the TFAA’s main landing site to watch the arrival of the additional Division of troops. Yet again they had managed to time their arrival perfectly. Over the past two weeks Thornton’s men had destroyed nine hostile units and inflicted heavy casualties on many others. As he had predicted the battle was fast turning into a route for the Union and it would now only be a matter of weeks before he was able to achieve complete victory.

Knowing that his men would have almost no down time before they were once again shipped off to Kappa Ceti would however take the opportunity to reorganise his troops to make sure only the freshest battalions began the journey and undertook the initial landing. Hopefully that would give the other men that had seen the heaviest fighting at least a few months to recover.

2060 February

107 Piscium
Captain Aridan Booth sat at his command chair listening to his engineering teams continue to work through the field checks of the rest of the fleets new engines. His task group, carrier group Alpha, was now just over three weeks out from Earth and making excellent progress towards GJ 1065 and onwards to their eventual objective of Anderseriks. So far all of the engine checks had proven positive, testament to the skills of the dockyard engineers who had managed the substantial remits in such a short amount of time. The only galling fact was that the lead jump ship, the TFS Cayman Is remained on the older generation of engines, having been forced to depart before a shipyard could be retooled to perform the necessary upgrade; meaning that the fleet could not yet stretch its’ legs to the full. That aside it was good to be back in open space and heading for the frontier again; the ships and crew had spent too long getting used to life in orbit and they needed the kick to restore their operational skills.

Booth thought back to the frantic activity that had taken place in Sol on the tail of the message from Lieutenant Commander Sanders. Navy command had taken a few days to respond to both the message and the calls from government; when they did they called for calm and the need to carefully weigh up the appropriate response. Behind the scenes however he knew that the Navy had been thrown into crisis mode with working out how to adequately respond without stripping Earth's own defences.

After much wrangling and no small amount of lobbying on his part, Shots had finally agreed to send a full task group to investigate the new system and deal with any Mech presence. The task group would be closely followed by a salvage group, survey vessels and a xenoarchaeology team in case further ruins were identified. The decision to send Alpha group was finally made on the basis that the newly refitted ships would be able to make the return journey almost 40 days faster than the currently formed Delta group and hence would minimise exposure for Earth.

In return for the rapid deployment of the carrier group Shots had been able to extract a number of concessions from the defence spending oversight committee allowing the immediate commissioning of four new 18,000 ton cruisers, the opening of the shipyards on Luyten to construct a series of new littoral defence light cruisers for the region. It was a fantastic outcome for the Navy but not without its’ risks. Booth only hoped that he could complete the mission with the minimum of problems and make it back to Earth with the minimum delay.

Kappa Ceti
Thornton wandered through the broken habitat domes stunned at what he was seeing. All around him was the smouldering remains of the small colony they had just spent almost five months fighting over. Initial sweeps showed that there wasn't a single large structure left standing and no signs off life anywhere. It was possibly the worst outcome to the battle that Thornton could have envisaged.

Just two days ago the TFAA had routed the last of the Union troops and finally cleared the way to the small colony. The advance had been delayed by a day whilst the last men of the relief division had made landfall; right on schedule as predicted by Thornton. All of the troops had mobilised and were ready to start occupying the colony when the explosions had begun. Thornton could only be thankful that the delays in mounting had meant his own men were not in the buildings when the destruction began.

"Sir, report just in from the engineers" reported one of his HQ staff, "they confirmed the use of weapons grade explosive at all of the site scanned to date. Based on the complete structural failure of the buildings the engineers initial conclusion is that the Union troops must have placed demolition charges some time ago. It looks like they were hoping to take some of us with them as a last act of defiance. If it's any consolation none of the civilians would have suffered once those charges went off".

"Thank you for the update" replied Thornton, biting off each word as he continued to stare at the ruins about him. "Have the engineers complete a full sweep for any unexplored ordnance and instruct the 68th and 69th to take up defensive positions. All other troops are to pull back and start preparing for uplift. Notify task group Manticore of our findings and that we will be ready to move in the next five days. I will finish my own tour of the area and will be back at the command post in the next couple of hours".

2060 March

Carter sat in his office, his feet up on his desk and a data pad propped up in his lap. In front of him the live stream from parliament was showing the opposition gleefully tearing strips off of the prime minister and his colleagues over the atrocious outcome in the battle for Kappa Ceti. Current estimates based on the number of destroyed habitat domes put the death toll at somewhere in the region of 250,000 civilians. A small but vocal minority were calling for the immediate court martial of Major General Thornton for his handling of the attack and the failure of his troops to secure the domes before they were sabotaged. That was never going to happen given Thornton's track record and the rather more pressing need for someone out there to oversee the invasion of a substantially larger world.

Carter grinned; it was funny how Thornton’s inaction which had resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands was going to let him off scot free whilst captain Shaw’s actions that had arguably saved many lives had more or less ended his career. A start reminder to all how politics could ride rough shod over such basics as common sense.

For Carter though the important thing had been that there was no discussion of changing the plans for Kappa Ceti, it seems no one wanted to open that can of worms given the Navy’s current presence in the system and the somewhat forceful nature of their presence. Even if they had been able to reason with the Followers it was incredibly doubtful that they would ever find a path back to peace, at least not without a level of restitution that would likely cripple the Federation for years to come.

That left the rather more appealing opportunities of greater investment in the armed forces and further improvement of the civilian shipping fleet to improve lift capacity. There was certainly money to be made from all of this and in Carter’s mind that could only be a good thing.

Delta Trianguli
Miller watched on as the third Suma class vessel the Followers had sent at them was obliterated by a volley of 18 Harpy Mk 4 missiles from the task group’s attendant destroyers. Miller had ceased trying to ponder quite what the Followers thought they may achieve through such a fruitless exercise. Instead, Miller was focusing on keeping her ships and crew as ready as possible for the eventual invasion and trying to limit the inevitable erosion of effectiveness as their deployment stretched into long months.

Whilst she had been shocked about the news from Kappa Ceti in other ways she was relieved. The lack of a need for a garrison force either to defend the old colony or to keep the population in check meant that the TFAA could wrap up operations sooner than expected and get on with the invasion in front of her. The sooner they did that the sooner they could stop the Followers throwing away the lives of their own Navy personnel.

In fact Miller did not have to wait much longer. Little more than two weeks after the last Followers’ ship had been destroyed the ships of Trooper 1 and 2 along with their escort jumped into the system and immediately headed for the Followers’ home world. Within hours Commodore Webster, Miller’s notional 2ic, had formed up a detachment consisting of the task group’s destroyers and one light cruiser and was poised to join the escort for the final assault.

Captain Barnett listened anxiously as the watch officer intermittently broke the silence across the bridge with the countdown for the task group’s sensors to clear. Knowing that Sanders’ scout ship had been able to enter the system unmolested, Barnett had decided to execute a standard transit in order to bring all of his vessels through at one time before heading towards the planets some 2.3bn km distant. However with the countdown seemingly stretching into eternity he was beginning to regret his actions.

Finally the sensor cleared and, to the relief of Barnett, quickly confirmed that there were no large vessels within 500m km of them. Updates also confirmed the extensive number of wrecks in the system and the tell-tale signatures of Mech ships. Keen to complete his sweep Barnett immediately orders the task group to move in system with the TFS Britain, Bulgaria and Burma running point some 50m km ahead of the main group.

With the stress of the initial jump behind them, Barnett was pleased to see the crew quickly fall into the fleet high alert routine. Whilst not something that could be maintained in the long term Barnett had decided that the short five day journey into the system would mean that they were likely to come across any hostiles sooner rather than later and hence warranted the higher on-board tempo. It didn't hurt that the large number of wrecks on scan and there for everyone to see were helping to focus the crew's minds.

Four days in but still with no signs of hostile activity the task group's long range sensors began to sweep the outer planets and asteroid belt. Given past experience with the usually fast responding and highly aggressive Mechs Barnett was now pretty certain that their charge across the systems was going to end in a false alarm. He would finish his sweep of the planets to ensure no mine fields had been left in orbit then immediately head for home. Checking his mission clock he noted that the task group still had six more hours to go before its' sensors would cover the system's second planet around which many of the wrecks were clustered. With one last check round the bridge Barnett assigned the comm to his watch officer and headed back to his room for a bite to eat and a few hours’ sleep.

Five hours later he was back up on the bridge watching the scan range slowly tick down. About him he could feel the tension in the bridge beginning to grow. If they were going to encounter any hostiles they would undoubtedly be round the planet. Once more the tension mounted on the bridge only to be replaced by a mixed wave of disappointment and relief as the sensors finally confirmed that there were no large Mech ships in orbit of the central planets. Frustrated with the experience Barnett once again retired to his office to catch up on the never ending paperwork before retreating to his bunk. He was still thinking through a revised rotation plan for the crew when he finally passed out.

Siren wails cut through Barnett’s sleep, jerking him awake. Instinctively, before he had wiped the sleep from his eyes, he slapped the bridge comm control. “Ensign report”.  An excited response greeted him. “Sir, sensors have just picked up a new contact at planet AII, database search is not matching it to any known configuration of vessels we have previously encountered. This might be a first conta…” “What’s the range and what it’s doing?” interrupted Barnett. “Sorry Sir, range 237m km bearing 16 degrees. No movement or sensors detected”.  “Thank you Ensign, bring the fleet to a full stop. I will be up in a few minutes and shout if it does anything in the meantime”.

Barnett hurriedly pulled on a fresh jumpsuit before making his way up to the bridge thinking furiously as he went. If this was a new alien race had they destroyed the Mechs in this system or stumbled on it like them, were they a hostile species and did they have other ships in the system?

Finally Barnett made it to the bridge. “Ok, Ensign tell me what we know.” “Sir, contact was detected at 04:45Z at a range of 237.54m km. Sensor indicates a cross section of 80 so in the 4000 ton range. Vessel is in close orbit of Planet AII. We have not detected any changes of position or any signals being transmitted. No active sensors detected and we are not picking up any thermal emissions at this stage. Ship is active and appears to be running a survey of the planet. As far as we can tell it’s not detected us.”

“Very good Ensign” replied Barnett. “Instruct all vessels to hold position. I want one squadron of Starfuries on high alert; rotate the rest of the crews of to get some sleep. Comms please begin broadcasting our standard greeting messages. Let’s see if we can talk to our new friends”.

Five minutes later the comms officer reported a response on one of the FTL subspace channels. “Sir, we are getting a set pattern response coming through, initial analysis seems to indicate that whoever they are they are running a base 16 standard. It’s going to take the commuters a while to even start trying to make sense of this”. “Ok, well neither our sensors nor our message appears to have spooked them so let’s see if we can make progress on contact. Comms, keep working on it and let me have twice daily updates on any progress. In the meantime let’s see what else we can find out about this system”.

Two days later Barnett gets another call from the bridge. “Sir, contact has just broken from orbit, current track shows them heading for an asteroid approximately 5m km closer to us. Speed, err speed is 6,250km/s”. Barnett spits coffee across his desk. Baring the Mechs that was the fastest ship the Federation had ever encountered, matching the speed of their most modern warships. If they were that technologically advanced they could pose a serious threat to the Federation, especially in this relatively poorly defended area of space. Barnett composed himself before replying “ok, keep me informed of any further changes and notify the crew that I intend to stay on station until the end of the month. If we haven’t made further progress by then we will drop a first contact comms probe to continue efforts before returning to GJ 1065 to report our findings to command”.

Delta Trianguli
Thornton could feel the build-up of vibration as his assault shuttle ploughed through the near Earth atmosphere of the planet, its pilot strained to get the small craft on the ground as quickly as possible. On his tactical screen he could see the multiple drop units of both Divisions making landfall. So far there had been only sporadic fire from the ground, seeming to back up the low orbit pass which had failed to identify anything but a small ground force. Perhaps just for once thought Thornton, his men might actually catch a lucky break.

Offline Beersatron

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Re: Worlds Collide
« Reply #18 on: October 12, 2013, 04:27:30 PM »
Could you post designs for some of your ships? Like that 18000 ton cruiser and the littoral light cruiser?

Offline Sematary

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Re: Worlds Collide
« Reply #19 on: October 14, 2013, 07:04:34 PM »
Awesome story.

Offline chrislocke2000 (OP)

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Re: Worlds Collide
« Reply #20 on: October 15, 2013, 02:21:32 AM »
Thanks, Captain Shaw is going to spend a bit of time musing over the current fleet and ship designs in the next installment so you will see a bunch of the designs then. This is a 5.7 campaign (I was waiting for Steve to fix some of the bugs in 6.1 before switching but got so far along in this one I decided to use it as the base for the fiction) so I'm not dealing with the same fuel and crew constraints you see in current version designs.

Offline chrislocke2000 (OP)

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Re: Worlds Collide
« Reply #21 on: November 07, 2013, 05:14:54 PM »
I seem to have been plugging away at this update for an age. Work has been horrible so a reasonable chunk of the following has been tapped out on the blackberry when I've find the odd ten minutes of free time so apologies in advance for any glaring language issues in this update.

2060 April

Delta Trianguli
Thornton was sat on a small wooden park bench with his face raised to catch the glow of the mid afternoon sun. About him he could hear the chirping of birds and, with his combat suit's helmet propped next to him, he could smell the heady aroma of flowers. Thornton sighed, with a little imagination he could believe himself to back on Earth enjoying a warm summer day rather than being billions of miles away in the centre of what had until very recently been a war zone on an alien planet. Giving himself just a few more moments to enjoy the heat on his face and the remarkably fresh air Thornton finally stretched out before prizing his eyes open once more.

Before him the reality of the situation was plain to see; the city's central park in which he was sat had been  largely commandeered by his division HQ as it was both close to the Followers' existing government buildings and provided plenty of open space to set up the various command modules whilst allowed for an orbital transit zone. About him, heavy machinery continued to finish preparation of the site whilst troops, still clad in their full combat armour patrolled the hastily erected perimeter walls. Thornton grimaced, it would probably be years before the park was returned to its' previously more restful state.

A beeping from his comm unit reminded him that he had an O group to deliver in a little under fifteen minutes. Thornton cancelled the alarm before grabbing his helmet and heading back to the main command module. On the way he thought back to the events of the last month. The battle for the planet could barely be called such a thing, as expected, the remains of the Followers' ground forces were little more than several battalions of infantry, a brigade HQ and a regiment of engineers. Thornton's own battle hardened divisions of heavy assault and assault infantry had quickly overrun all of their positions and destroyed all opposition. Less than a week later, the clergy who appeared to act as both the spiritual and political leaders of the Followers, pronounced their unconditional surrender and quickly moved to hand power to the Federation before retreating to support the faith of their population.

The Federation's huge surge in troops on the planet had meant that they had more than enough man power to instigate strict controls whilst they worked to implement a transitional government and representative body for the population. Looting and rioting had, so far, been kept to an absolute minimum but the close controls combined with the destruction of much of the communications and power infrastructure meant that the industrial output of the planet was heavily curtailed and, if experience was gone by, would likely result in a substantial recession that would take years to pull them out from.

In the meantime Thornton needed to get his men moved from a war footing to a policing role as quickly as possible. The sooner they could show the citizens that they were not here to hurt them the better. Thankfully, the fact that the atmosphere was more than breathable for them meant the job would be substantially easier - it was always harder to win the hearts and minds of people from behind an armoured visor.

GJ 1065
“Sir all vessels report jump complete and in formation”. “Very good ensign”, replied Captain Barnett “Comms, initiate hand shake protocols with the jump gate transceiver and send the data packet as soon as you have confirmation that our codes have been accepted and we have a secure channel. Inform administrator Barrett that we have completed our sweep of the system and will be staying in orbit for a short while whilst we wait for new orders. Let me know as soon as we get a response from Earth on that report, I’ll be in my cabin for the next few hours”.

Barnett was well aware that the signal would take longer than that to reach Earth, let alone the time they would spend making a decision on the next actions to take. Given the Federation’s fairly poor record of encounters with alien civilisations he was pretty sure it was going to cause a mini riot back home.

Sol – Navy HQ
Rear Admiral Shots was down in guts of the Navy HQ’s lower levels where he was working through his daily 50 laps of the pool. It was five thirty in the morning and the pool was almost completely empty. Not that he had to worry about having space to swim as the rest of the pool’s users kept a respectful distance. Shots enjoyed his morning swim as one of the few times he was not in touching distance of a comms unit and able to get some peace and quiet.

Five laps into his swim Shots noticed a young ensign stood at the far end of the pool, data pad in hand and a look of agitation on his face. For a few moments Shots wondered whether he could get away with pretending not to notice him before deciding to give into the inevitable and swimming over.

As Shots came to the edge of the pool the young officer came sharply to attention before saluting. “Please ensign, I’m hardly in a position to return your salute now am I” remarked Shots.  “Apologies sir, I’ve been sent down by Mr Booth, he asked me to apologise on his behalf for disturbing you this morning. He has received a priority message from Captain Barnett in GJ 1065 which he feels requires your immediate attention”.

“Please stop apologising and go fetch me a towel, then go and tell Mr Booth that I will be up with him in ten minutes. I assume whatever the message I’ve got time to at least dry myself off”? “Yes sir, of course sir”. The Ensign caught himself half way towards another reflexive salute from being dismissed, grabbed a towel for Shots and left at a very brisk walk”.

A little more than ten minutes later Shots was up in the briefing room with a large mug of coffee, one of his few vices, in his hand. In front of him were arrayed most of the senior intelligence and planning staff. Shots took a large gulp of coffee, whatever it was; it was unlikely to be good news for him.

“Sir, apologies again for the urgency of this briefing, we have just received a report from Captain Barnett. As far as he could ascertain there is no remaining Mech threat in Anderseriks”. “Well that hardly feels like cause for concern Commander” replied Shots before Booth could continue.

“We quite agree sir. Unfortunately that’s not the problem. Whilst performing his sweep the carrier group made contact with a new alien race. From the behaviour and size of the single vessel encountered Barnett concluded that it was most likely a system survey ship of some sort and we would concur with that opinion at this stage. As a result of the contact Barnett followed protocol and backed off out of the system whilst deployed a suite of our standard first contact probes to attempt to establish communications”.
“Whilst the alien ship made no hostile moves we have to assume that there is at least the chance that this alien civilisation was responsible for the destruction of the very significant Mech presence. Combined with the fact that the ship was observed travelling at some 6,250 km/s it is possible that we have just encountered a race that is technologically superior to the Federation and capable of significant force projection”.
Shots, took a moment to take a few sips of his coffee, using the time to compose his response. “Ok everyone this just became our top priority. GJ 1065 just became our potential new front line; I want a plan of action to have that system appropriately fortified in the next six months. We are going to need even more ships for the Luyten cluster so let’s go back to the drawing board on the current refit programme. What we need now are more hulls, not faster ones. Make sure you get Captain Shaw up to speed as soon as possible”.
Shots paused for a few moments to further think through the problem before continuing “Ok we need a more immediate response on deployments as well. Let’s keep a destroyer detachment in GJ 1065 and get the rest of Alpha back to Luyten to relieve Commodore Miller. I want to see options on further deployment of our survey group into the system and onwards; finding their base of operations or better yet their home world will give us a huge advantage if it ever moves to conflict. In the meantime, unless anyone thinks otherwise, let’s try not to provoke them with more military ships and active sensors in system”.
“Last but by no means least”, continued Shots “we need to sort out our civilian response. Let’s make sure we have our best diplomatic team ready to jump on this once we have comms. Otherwise I want that area a no go zone for any civilian shipping and, if at all possible, let’s try and keep this piece of news out of the press at least until we have some idea of what we are dealing with”.
“Now what are everyone else’s thoughts on the current situation and this planned response”? Shots sat back to finish his coffee whilst he listened to the room descend into a barley contained argument of proposal and counter proposal.
Sol – The Seychelles
Carter was sat on the veranda of his beachside villa looking out over the crystal blue ocean of the Indian ocean. The island, Ile du Nord, which was owned by an elaborate series of trusts and holding companies, now served as one of Carter's favourite retreats. It was well removed from the bustle of London, exceedingly private and one of the few paradise islands to have escaped the ravages of the Last War.

Unfortunately much of the beauty of the island was lost on him at the moment given the past two weeks of almost non-stop partying not only around the globe but also on an unbelievably opulent cruise to Mars and back. The whole of the Federation had been in a state of jubilation following the news of the Navy’s and TFAA’s success in forcing the Followers’ surrender. With the wars that had plagued the last four years of the Federation’s history now over and the wealth it had brought likely to fund a long period of growth the Federation’s citizens had every reason to be happy. Seeing an easy way to boost his standing, Carter had immediately embarked on a tour of the key cities with lavish celebrations at every step.

Unfortunately for Carter, the combined technological might of the Federation had still failed to come up with an easy and reliable cure for a serious hangover. Consequently Carter had been busy focusing on as little as possible for the last hour, waiting for the throbbing in his head to ebb when the priority alert on his data pad chimed.

Carter groaned and rolled over, attempting to block out the noise with the beach towel on his lounger. The beeping was however incessant and before long he was forced to roll back and hit thumb the com pad.

"This had better be unbelievably important Mrs Gladstone" seethed Carter when he saw it was his finance director calling.

"If it wasn't I wouldn't be calling you now would I?" quipped back his rather formidable and equally aggressive employee. "We've just had news in from our salvage group in GJ-1065. Despite the all clear in Anderseriks some jump start Captain Barnett from the destroyer detachment the navy left there is denying access to the system. Something to do with further surveys being needed or some such twaddle. The news has already leaked out, Endtech Industries is tanking fast, the stock is already down 256 bps in pre trading. Looks like it will be a bloodbath".

"Jesus bloody Christ" swore Carter. "Ok we need to get this contained and fast. Get me some counter chatter out there, malicious rumours, attempts at stock manipulation, anything. Oh and get someone arrested over it and make it public. If we take much more of a dive on that our debt covenants are going to start biting. Looks like I'm going to need to call in a few favours to get this lot moving again. It’s going to take the best part of the day to get rolling so I want regular updates on that stock price".

Carter killed the link and immediately put in a call to navy HQ. He knew just the person for the job. Surprisingly enough his head was starting to feel much better.

2060 May

GJ 1065
Captain Barnett sat in his ready room scratching his head. Two weeks ago he had received orders to secure the EG 453 jump gate, which linked the system with Anderseriks, and prevent any civilian shipping from entering the area. The orders had been explicit around the avoidance of further contact with the Sakies, as they had come to be known, until full communication was achieved.
His latest set of orders was however a complete U-turn. He was now meant to take his small task group straight back to Anderseriks and to protect the salvage group currently in system whilst they recovered the Mech wrecks. He’d known HQ to procrastinate at the best of times but changes in tack like this were almost unheard of. What’s more, as far as he could tell from the news feeds Parliament had been surprisingly quiet on the situation as well so there was no sign of the usual political manoeuvring that may have otherwise been the cause for such a change in tack.

For the third time he checked the authentication codes half hoping that the orders were some kind of hoax. However they once again checked out.

Finally Barnett stood up and made his way to the bridge to organise the mission.

Sol - Mars Shipyards
Captain Shaw was sat at his temporary desk looking over the detritus littering the room. Half drunk coffee cups, drinks cans and take away cartons festooned the few areas of his desk not piled high with data pads, technical summaries, design proposals and scribbled notes. The side wall that was filled with his holo display was crammed full of more information included maps of the known system and contact reports.

Directly in front of him, sat on a hastily cleared section of desk, was a presentation data pad. After months of procrastination, u turns, changes in policy, bitter political rows, in fighting and confirmation of yet more alien life Shaw had finally managed to complete the Navy's new strategic plan. He wasn't sure if it had been three days or four since the intel on the new aliens had landed and he had last managed to sleep but that didn't matter now. They had an agreed plan and they could finally get moving.

As all good plans went this was a relatively simple one. The Navy's base of operations would be split in two with the formation of a second fleet based in Luyten. Responsibility for the Federation's systems would fall as follows:

Home Fleet:
Alpha Centuri
Groombridge 34
Eta Cassiopeiae
Epsilon Eridani
Proxima Centuri
Delta Paconis
Giliese 674
Epsilon Indi

Union Fleet:
Luyten 1305
Delta Trianguli
107 Piscium
Iota Persei
Kappa Ceti
GJ 1065
54 Piscium

The most heated debate had been around the allocation of responsibility for 107 Piscium. Whilst remote from Sol the system acted as a gateway to what were now referred to as the core worlds and the birthplace of humanity. Sol therefore saw it as their duty and right to defend this key system. However the relative logistics of the Home fleet instead of the Union fleet defending the system made this choice, aside from the political angle, nonsensical.

Shaw had finally resolved the stand-off by nominating one of the Home Fleet's carrier groups as the quick reaction force to reinforce the system or fight any rear guard action back towards Sol.

With the responsibilities of the systems resolved Shaw had turned his attention to the current and projected future requirements of the navy.

The carrier groups had proven themselves time and again to be effective offensive units and demonstrated that large single volleys of missiles were able to overcome all but the most heavily defended opponents. Their use in subsequent actions in Luyten and Delta Trianguli had however shown a number of critical weaknesses:

-The weak armour and lack of direct fire weapons meant they were unable to participate in any planetary inter diction operations;
-The task groups were capable of burning close to half a year's missile production in a single engagement which put significant strain on the Federation's industrial capacity and ability to fight a prolonged war;
-They were heavily reliant on maintaining and controlling the engagement distance to hostile forces.   In defensive operations this meant that they would be unable to hold ground against an enemy capable of advancing through several fighter strikes; and
-They were heavy consumers of fuel and crew.

Shaw's conclusion therefore was to restrict the use of the carriers to offensive operations and mobile defence, to reduce the navy's overall proportion of carriers to other combat vessels and to balance construction with less missile based vessels.

As well as splitting the existing task groups, new task groups would be built around one of three broad roles being offensive operations, mobile system defences and stationary defences. Whilst many ships would be designed around dual roles this new structure paved the way for the construction of more specialised combat vessels, namely Littoral light cruisers and orbital weapon platforms. Given the noted limitations in fighters the navy would cease its current policy of using redundant fighters as the key defence for colonies, limited them instead to ancillary support only.

The change in tack meant that all further upgrades on the existing carrier task groups would be cancelled in favour of the immediate retooling of the available shipyards. A further investment in a series of smaller slipways to facilitate the construction of a new generation of frigates and the orbital platforms would also be made, including the development of more shipyards around Luyten 1305. These would however be limited to building the defence vessels in order to appease to still powerful political resistance against rearming the Union population.

The years of shipyard expansions and slipway increases had led to past designers pushing the design limits for the size of vessels launched. Unfortunately the many smaller outposts and colonies in the growing Federation had nowhere near the maintenance capacity to keep these vessels supported and left a significant strain on the manufacturing base as men and materials were shifted to try to build additional maintenance facilities.

Shaw had therefore further concluded that mobile system defence ships should be restricted to destroyer vessels or smaller whilst orbital defences were addressed through the construction of smaller but more numerous weapon platforms. A similar tack would also be taken with the carrier support vessels with increased numbers of smaller vessels to take on the tasks of force recon and interdiction.

This had led to the design of two new, largely energy weapon based, combat vessels. First and foremost was the new breed of Type 511 cruisers. Built around a pair of triple 20cm Ultraviolet Laser turrets the vessels would be able to dominate near space with an engagement envelope of over 300k km making them ideal warp point offense and defence platform. They were also the first breed of ships to be considered entirely self-sufficient with active and passive sensors and anti-missile defences allowing for potential single vessel deployments.

These vessels would serve primarily as the core escorts for the new carriers, significantly reducing the number of vessels to stay attached to the carrier task groups.

Code: [Select]
Type 511 class Cruiser    18,000 tons     1442 Crew     4201 BP      TCS 360  TH 2250  EM 0
6250 km/s     Armour 8-61     Shields 0-0     Sensors 16/22/0/0     Damage Control Rating 24     PPV 150.1
Maint Life 4.77 Years     MSP 2042    AFR 185%    IFR 2.6%    1YR 147    5YR 2211    Max Repair 240 MSP
Magazine 384   

MCF Drive E5 (18)    Power 125    Fuel Use 50%    Signature 125    Armour 0    Exp 5%
Fuel Capacity 515,000 Litres    Range 103.0 billion km   (190 days at full power)

Twin 10cm C3 Ultraviolet Laser Turret (2x2)    Range 120,000km     TS: 10000 km/s     Power 6-6     RM 4    ROF 5        3 3 3 3 2 2 1 1 1 1
Triple 20cm C5 UvL Turret (2x3)    Range 320,000km     TS: 10000 km/s     Power 30-15     RM 4    ROF 10        10 10 10 10 8 6 5 5 4 4
Twin GC 20r8 (2x8)    Range 20,000km     TS: 20000 km/s     Power 0-0     RM 2    ROF 5        1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Fire Control S08 160-10000 (2)    Max Range: 320,000 km   TS: 10000 km/s     97 94 91 88 84 81 78 75 72 69
Fire Control S06 48-20000 (2)    Max Range: 96,000 km   TS: 20000 km/s     90 79 69 58 48 38 27 17 6 0
Tokamak Fusion Reactor Technology PB-1 (1)     Total Power Output 4    Armour 0    Exp 5%
MCF Reactor 10-1 (4)     Total Power Output 40    Armour 0    Exp 5%

Size 4 Box Launcher (96)    Missile Size 4    Hangar Reload 30 minutes    MF Reload 5 hours
Missile Fire Control FC106-R50 (4)     Range 106.9m km    Resolution 50
Harpy 5 (96)  Speed: 50,000 km/s   End: 28.2m    Range: 84.6m km   WH: 6    Size: 4    TH: 233 / 140 / 70

Active Search Sensor MR110-R120 (1)     GPS 8640     Range 110.4m km    Resolution 120
Active Search Sensor MR5-R1 (1)     GPS 48     Range 5.2m km    Resolution 1
Thermal Sensor TH2-16 (1)     Sensitivity 16     Detect Sig Strength 1000:  16m km
EM Detection Sensor EM2-22 (1)     Sensitivity 22     Detect Sig Strength 1000:  22m km

The second core vessel design was the Type 431 Littoral class light cruisers. These were essentially scaled down versions of the Type 511 cruisers, with reduced armaments and range but substantial first strike power with 80 box launchers to enable crippling first strikes. These vessels would be operated in packs and act as the primary force to defend systems the more developed systems in the Federation.

Code: [Select]
Type 431 class Light Cruiser    12,000 tons     999 Crew     2716.4 BP      TCS 240  TH 1500  EM 0
6250 km/s     Armour 7-46     Shields 0-0     Sensors 16/22/0/0     Damage Control Rating 17     PPV 101.47
Maint Life 4.58 Years     MSP 990    AFR 164%    IFR 2.3%    1YR 77    5YR 1152    Max Repair 240 MSP
Magazine 320   

MCF Drive E5 (12)    Power 125    Fuel Use 50%    Signature 125    Armour 0    Exp 5%
Fuel Capacity 170,000 Litres    Range 51.0 billion km   (94 days at full power)

Twin 10cm C3 Ultraviolet Laser Turret (2x2)    Range 120,000km     TS: 10000 km/s     Power 6-6     RM 4    ROF 5        3 3 3 3 2 2 1 1 1 1
20cm C5 Ultraviolet Laser (4)    Range 320,000km     TS: 6250 km/s     Power 10-5     RM 4    ROF 10        10 10 10 10 8 6 5 5 4 4
Twin GC 20r8 (1x8)    Range 20,000km     TS: 20000 km/s     Power 0-0     RM 2    ROF 5        1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Fire Control S08 160-10000 (1)    Max Range: 320,000 km   TS: 10000 km/s     97 94 91 88 84 81 78 75 72 69
Fire Control S06 48-20000 (1)    Max Range: 96,000 km   TS: 20000 km/s     90 79 69 58 48 38 27 17 6 0
Tokamak Fusion Reactor Technology PB-1 (1)     Total Power Output 4    Armour 0    Exp 5%
MCF Reactor 10-1 (3)     Total Power Output 30    Armour 0    Exp 5%

Size 4 Box Launcher (80)    Missile Size 4    Hangar Reload 30 minutes    MF Reload 5 hours
Missile Fire Control FC106-R50 (4)     Range 106.9m km    Resolution 50

Active Search Sensor MR110-R120 (1)     GPS 8640     Range 110.4m km    Resolution 120
Active Search Sensor MR5-R1 (1)     GPS 48     Range 5.2m km    Resolution 1
Thermal Sensor TH2-16 (1)     Sensitivity 16     Detect Sig Strength 1000:  16m km
EM Detection Sensor EM2-22 (1)     Sensitivity 22     Detect Sig Strength 1000:  22m km

ECM 10

Finally the navy would also build a new series of shipyards for the construction of a series of 6,000 ton weapon platforms that would be capable of immediate deployment to new colonies whilst maintenance facilities were constructed to eventually provide direct support to them. These platforms would again be self-sufficient and would need no ordnance.

Given current turret designs work was needed to create a weapon system appropriate for the platform, however based on the use of a single cruiser turret Shaw had demonstrated a proof of concept design. With smaller turrets the platform would be able to fit substantially more engineering facilities, allowing for far longer deployments without support:

Code: [Select]
Type 271 class Orbital Weapon Platform    6,000 tons     506 Crew     1586.6 BP      TCS 120  TH 0  EM 0
1 km/s     Armour 5-29     Shields 0-0     Sensors 1/1/0/0     Damage Control Rating 4     PPV 70.64
Maint Life 2.63 Years     MSP 578    AFR 82%    IFR 1.1%    1YR 118    5YR 1768    Max Repair 240 MSP

Triple 20cm C5 UvL Turret (1x3)    Range 320,000km     TS: 10000 km/s     Power 30-15     RM 4    ROF 10        10 10 10 10 8 6 5 5 4 4
Twin GC 20r8 (3x8)    Range 20,000km     TS: 20000 km/s     Power 0-0     RM 2    ROF 5        1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Fire Control S08 160-10000 (1)    Max Range: 320,000 km   TS: 10000 km/s     97 94 91 88 84 81 78 75 72 69
Fire Control S06 48-20000 (3)    Max Range: 96,000 km   TS: 20000 km/s     90 79 69 58 48 38 27 17 6 0
MCF Reactor 10-1 (2)     Total Power Output 20    Armour 0    Exp 5%

Active Search Sensor MR5-R1 (1)     GPS 48     Range 5.2m km    Resolution 1

GJ 1065
Colonel Foster was fuming. Sat in here command tent she could hear the comms chatter between the Navy destroyers escorts and the salvage group as they prepared to jump out of the system and on to Anderseriks. Up until two weeks ago she had firmly been expecting to go with them as a lead consultant for the exploration of any identified ruins. That plan was smashed when Captain Barnett slapped an embargo on any civilian ships heading into system.

With the closure of the system, the survey vessel she had spent so many weeks and favours over to get redirected to GJ 1065, had run out of reasons to stay. That ship was now on route to Delta Trianguli to urgently re-survey the systems. A rather too successful piece of sabotage had managed to wipe the data banks of all mineral deposit information in the system. That one piece of spite had probably done more damage to the Federation's war efforts then the combined actions of the rest of the Followers' military might.

What really infuriated her though was the complete U turn in orders no more than a few weeks later. She was thus having to watch the rest of expeditionary force head off to find goodness knows what whilst she was left stranded on the planet. The only good piece of news out of the last few weeks was the reported recovery of another research facility, yet another fantastic find for the team.

Offline chrislocke2000 (OP)

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Re: Worlds Collide
« Reply #22 on: December 17, 2013, 05:02:24 PM »
June 2060

Sol – London
Shots and Miller stood in awkward silence outside of the personal offices of the minister for defence. They had been waiting to be called in for a supposedly urgent meeting for close to 35 minutes. As the minutes ticked by, Shots felt a growing sense of unease about the meeting, quickly finding himself running through recent decisions to see if he had made some glaring error.

The room, a homage to a time long past was not helping with his unease either. In one corner of the room a relic from before the war, a grandfather clock, kept up its monotonous ticking refusing to allow Shots to ignore the minutes creeping by. Meanwhile net curtains imparted a defuse light that gave an almost surreal feel to someone so accustomed to modern lighting. Matched with pre-war furniture of actual wooden tables, real leather upholstered chairs and finished with muted green paint the room was clearly designed to both humble and impress. Unfortunately for Shots it was having its desired effect.

Normally Shots would have taken the time to catch up in more detail with Miller's recent deployment and her actions in Luyten and Iota Persei. However, just prior to the call, Shots had broken the news to  Miller that her task group was no longer going to be getting the much heralded engine upgrades.  That particular bit of news had not gone down particularly well with Miller, especially given her recent long journey back from Luyten especially for the refits.

Miller had started her response with those immortal words "with all due respect sir" and, as expected after that, had gone downhill from there. Understandably therefore, small talk was not exactly forthcoming now.

What Shots really wanted to do was give Miller some space to blow off steam and take some time to properly absorb the reasoning for the change in plan. That just wasn't going to happen right now so he could only hope that whatever the minister wanted it would be short and they could go their separate ways for a while.

Finally the large old oak door in front of them creaked open to reveal the ministers chief secretary. "Rear Admiral Shots, Commodore Miller, the minister will see you now" intoned the secretary in a deep baritone voice clearly honed from years of announcing guests.

Inside, the minister's office was equally dated and stuffy with the same net curtains, leather chairs and an enormous ancient heavily scared mahogany desk at its centre. There was even pen and paper on an old blotter whilst what looked to be a halogen desk lamp created light and shadow on equal measure. A single screen, discreetly perched on one side of the desk seemed to be the only concession to the modern world.

Behind the desk, sipping from a delicate looking cup sat the minister; now close to eighty years of age he was due to retire within the next six months. Shots knew better than to think him past his prime though; the man had retained his incredible intellect, sixth sense on political matters and a tongue that could flay a person at twenty yards. Both Shots and Miller had felt the sharpness of that tongue in the past and neither of them was in a rush to feel it again.

Finally the minister carefully set his cup and saucer down on the side of the desk "Catherine, Sam, so kind of you to find the time in your no doubt hectic diaries to come and meet with me today. Please do take a seat" started the Minister whilst he gestured towards the two large deep russet brown leather arm chairs that had been pulled in front of his desk. "Would you like some refreshment, tea perhaps?"

"Tea would be wonderful, thank you minister" piped up Miller whilst Shots was still preoccupied with easing himself into the low legged chair. "Excellent" replied the Minister whilst sending his under-secretary scurrying with the slightest nod of his head. Shots dared to take a moment to glance over to Miller who, like him, was now ensconced in her chair and peering up at the Minister before smiling a thanks to him.

"So to business then; I wanted to spend some time chatting through with you the findings from the paper that Shaw chap recently sent round. He's certainly come up with some interesting ideas as to what to do with the fleet now we have all this extra real estate to keep an eye on. Perhaps the two of you would be so kind as to give me your initial thoughts on the paper."

"Of course Sir" responded Shots "In summary I think that Captain Shaw has done an excellent job with consolidating our combined thinking on the future direction of our Naval forces, especially given the rapidly emerging situation over the last few months and the achievements of the TFAA".  Shots knew he was being vague and the monologue was unlikely to stand scrutiny from the Minister but he desperately needed to buy some time to try and work out where this was going. The joint chiefs had already signed off on the plan and right now the shipyards were already retooling for the new task group designs.

Unfortunately Shots had no time to think any further on the matter; the minister took his pause for breath as an opportunity to commence a barrage of questions which ably demonstrated his acute understanding of the plan. The questions lasted for well over an hour, forcing himself and Miller to team up to address the intricate challenges being raised. In fact Shots could feel the tension between the two of them quickly evaporate as they fell back into their comfortable role of the Navy against the government.

Just as their flow was being to work well the Minister unexpected changed tack. "This is all well and good Admiral but what I'm really interested in is what's missing from the plan".

"I'm sorry sir", replied Shots "I'm not quite sure what you are alluding to. As I would hope myself and the Commodore have ably demonstrated to you, this is an excellent, well-constructed and thought out plan that gives our Navy a clear and effective plan for the next Decade".

"Yes yes, Admiral, you are quite right but please forgive my addled old brain. As far as I can recollect there was no reference to the leadership of the Navy's forces in what will clearly be a time of great change"?

"Ah no sir, you are quite right, Captain Shaw's remit was to cover just the Navy's vessel designs, task group composition and deployment". So this was it thought Shots, out with the old and in with the new.

"Oh good, I thought that was the case; so I've taken it upon myself to consider these aspects directly with the Cabinet, Commodore Miller".

Hearing the abrupt change in tone Miller hauled herself from the chair to stand at attention in front of the minister's desk before he continued.

"You have on numerous occasions aptly demonstrated your gift of leadership and the management of the most complex tactical problems all in the face of significant adversity. It is therefore the unanimous decision of the Cabinet that you be promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral with immediate effect. You will review your full orders in due to course but in summary you will return to Luyten where you will commission and lead a second fleet HQ for the defence and operations from the Luyten cluster".

Shots could see Miller grow at least an inch as she received the news.

"Thank you sir, it will be my honour”. “Excellent”, replied the minister before Miller could go on. “I expect that you will ant to start making preparations for the journey back to Luyten just as soon as possible. You also have my leave to pick your new command staff and replacement task group leaders as you see fit. Just please try to avoid promoting too many people, we don’t want all this change going to people’s heads”.

“Off course not sir, I already have some excellent candidates in mind”. “Great, that’s settled then”, interrupted the minister once more. “Now Admiral Shots, we clearly can’t have two rear Admirals running the show. I’m therefore promoting you to the rank of Vice Admiral. You will retain responsibility for Earth fleet and provide additional direction to Admiral Miller as required. I hope you have some very capable juniors on board with you as your command just got a whole heap more complicated”.

Shots pulled himself to his feet as soon as possible, but not being quite as spry as the new Admiral Miller, never quite made it before the minister continued.

“Well that just about wraps up our business for today I think. I shall look forward to seeing the progress reports on the new task groups, the deployment and the command appointments in due course. Good day to you”.

Shots and Miller turned to leave the room, seeing his secretary already miraculously at the door and holding it open. However, just as Shots was about to walk through the door the minister called out.  

“Oh Admiral Shots, one last thing if I may; I was very impressed with Captain Shaw’s plan. I think the young man has suffered more than enough from us bickering politians. Please be so kind as to inform him I’ve decided to reinstate his rank of Commodore with immediate effect”.

“Yes sir” replied Shots as he strode from the room with a large grin on his face.  

"Sir, all ships including the civilians report jump complete and ready to proceed in-system". "Thank you Ensign", replied Captain Barnett "Instruct the salvage group to lay in a course for the wrecks furthest out system. Inform the task group that we will be adopting a standard defensive screen with the assumed direction of threat from the planets. I want all ships on actives as soon as possible. Let's not forget we have an unknown alien vessels out there", and we are pretty badly set up for any passive scanning or small ship engagements so can't afford a less aggressive stance thought Barnett to himself.

Barnett thumbed his fleet broadcast controls "All hands, all hands, this is Captain Barnett. We have just successfully made the jump in system and are now heading for the initial objective. We are potentially in disputed territory here and therefore I am going to need your full focus and attention for the next few months. If you see anything odd, anything at all, please report it to your superiors immediately. Every minute could mean the difference to the whole task group. I recognise that this is a long active deployment and I have therefore asked each of the ship's captains to draw up a revised rota system to give you all as much down time as possible whilst we maintain a heightened alert status. As always I have faith that you will all fulfil your roles to the upmost of your abilities and help ensure this mission is a success. Barnett out".

Delta Trianguli
Administrator Benjamin Coles was sat in his temporary office, deep within the perimeter of TFAA’s temporary barracks and base of operations.  Coles had a stinging headache. Trying to get the economy of an occupied planet with a largely unhappy population was proving far more painful than he had imagined. The regular riots made an effective stock take of what was actually available almost impossible whilst coordination of any areas outside of direct military control was still a long way off.

The latest news from the survey vessels hastily brought in to re-perform scans for TN minerals was not good. Stocks of duranium on the home planet were all but exhausted as were most of the other minerals needed to keep the population's industry going. The one significant resource of duranium in the system turned out to be being jealously guarded by a bunch of die-hard militia. The TFAA had already dispatched a full division of troops to take control of the moon in question but it would likely be more than a month before he could even think about getting any mines out there; not that he had any freighters to do that in any case. More frustrating was the lack of salvagers available to take advantage of the tens of thousands of tons of wreckage littering the system as had been the case in Luyten.

In fact, given the circumstances he was firmly of the opinion that administrator Bolton had had it pretty easy compared to him. That didn't help him feel any better though when he had to request additional minerals from Luyten to give him something to work with. No doubt the powers that be back on Earth would be comparing his performance to date with that of Bolton and drawing some unhelpful conclusions.

Still it was nothing he could address now he thought, chiding himself for his wandering thoughts. Taking a swig from a bottle of water Coles selected another data pad at random from his pile, ready to try and address whatever problem that one held.

July 2060

Barnett was starting to feel a little better about his task group's current situation. The transit in-system had been uneventful so far with no further sign of any of the new alien's ships. What’s more, the latest strip of the comms buoy had revealed that the Federation’s language algorithms had finally been able to translate the alien’s language.

The Aliens, or more correctly, the X’Ching Hive as they called themselves, appeared to be a race of large insects that looked to all purposes much like giant versions of the praying mantis found back on Earth. Their language was a complex series of whistles, clicks and hums generated by what passed as a throat and one of the smaller inner mandibles. It was a language that no human could ever hope to replicate and hence the Federation would forever need to rely on translators to communicate with the X’Ching.

Past that Barnett’s intelligence team had been unable to learn almost anything else about the new race. The X’Ching had left a short holo message, from which they had the high level understanding of the physiology of the race, but that was it. The message had obtained only a perfunctory greeting and a request for the Federation to respect their borders and property. There had been no response to the Federation’s standard messaging offering an ongoing dialogue and the possibility of building relations between the two races.

Whilst that would no doubt frustrate the diplomatic teams, Barnett was less concerned. If the X’Ching just wanted to be left alone, that would suit him and the war weary Navy just fine. All he therefore needed to concentrate on was getting the salvagers in system, the wrecks recovered and then getting everyone back out system.    

Barnett's musings were brought to an abrupt halt by a priority alert from Captain Booth on the TFS Burma, the Type 301 Destroyer that was acting as the task group's jump tender and sensor platform for the duration of the operation. Barnett immediately touched the flashing icon on his command console to accept the tight beam channel hook up.

"Captain, we've just picked up a very strong active search sensor coming from a ship that looks to be in orbit of the 2nd planet. Wavelength analysis shows it's optimised for detected vessels in the 6000 ton range and we estimate effective range of over 280mkm, that's a little better than our own actives. Signature analysis confirms that it belongs to the Chigs; I’m sending you the sensor data now".

Barnett immediately punched a few more icons to bring his executive officer into the conversation. "David, I've got Captain Booth on the com, they've just picked up an active sensor from an X'Ching vessel somewhere in the vicinity of the 2nd planet. I want the combat net up and running with full sensor sharing asap and get our liaison officer to let the civvies know what's going on; just try not to panic them. Commander what else can you tell me?".

"Well there's been no movement detected since we first picked up the single a few moment ago, our estimates of their sensor range put the task group firmly outside their detection range although if their passives are anywhere near as good as ours they will likely be picking up our own main active sensor as well. I've just had a look at the current plot and from what I can tell the current group of wrecks will remain outside of their sensor range if they stay in the planets orbit. I've had my navigation officer look at our current plot, that won't take us through their detection range at any point either".

"Ok, given we can keep good tabs on them on passives please go ahead and shut down your main search sensor, let's see if we can remain as innocuous as possible. They might not want to talk to us but I'm not taking that as reason for them to ignore us as well. Based on the current situation I see no reason not to proceed with the initial phase of the mission or to change our ongoing readiness state given current separation. I do however want a watch officer manning an open coms line with the X'Ching at all times, let's make sure we are asking questions first".

Barnett took a look at his watch. "Ok, I think that's it for the moment. David please organise an 'O' group for the task force commanders, including our civilian friends, for 18.30 hours. We can reappraise the situation at 18.15, that should have given the X'Ching more than enough time to react to our presence so I will make a final go no go decision then. Oh and one last thing, can we please make sure that the crew and junior officers refer to these Aliens by their proper name, the last thing I want is some comm going out calling them bugs or Chings and discovering we just mortally offended them".

GJ 1065
Colonel Foster was unfortunately back to ineffectual fuming; one of the other Engineer brigades had managed to disturb another vault of robotic soldiers and this time round the infantry had wasted no time in deployed a section of men to provide close cover for her and her immediate command. What that meant in reality was that she was near enough under house arrest whilst the rest of the infantry dealt with the hostiles.
Foster more than recognised much of her anger stemmed from her inability to act, that wasn’t however helping matters. The infantry had at least let them tune into the command net so they could follow the progress of the engagement. In some respects that helped but in others it only raised her ire given the standing plan to let the robots throw themselves at the troops defensive lines rather than bring the fight to them. Of course it made perfect tactical sense but also dragged out the action leaving her team spending more time sat feeling on somewhat the worse side of useless.

Delta Trianguli
Thornton was reading the latest round of reports with satisfaction. The assault division dispatched to moon 10 had just reported the surrender of the colony and the discovery of a sizeable civilian mining operation on the moon. There were also some substantial piles of Duranium which just needed shipping back to the Followers home world.

Meanwhile back on the planet it appeared that his slow and measured response to the ongoing demonstrations and riots was starting to pay off. Whilst still a frequent event, Thornton could sense the mood swing with the demonstrations that did occur having lost much of their original lustre and energy compared to a few weeks back. More and more of the Followers were clearly recognising that the Federation wasn’t going to be going anywhere soon and were starting to trickle back to their jobs.

He was pretty sure that the neither the planetary governor nor the commander of the carrier group were going to see it quite that way through as the increased production was placing further strain on the pitiful flow of duranium. This was delaying completion of the current round of PDCs and was also preventing the support yards from helping to maintain the ships in orbit.

Fortunately a heavy lift freighter was on route from Luyten with over 8000 tons of duranium and 2000 tons of tritanium on board, unfortunately it was one of the Union’s old freighter designs making the journey a painfully slow one.

Luyten 1305-10
Administrator Laura Bolton sat in her newly commissioned office admiring the view from her 18th floor corner window. The new office sat just outside the Union’s capital and from this height she was able to see the myriad of scintillating lighting so beloved by the Union population.
 After several months of blood sweat and tears the Union engineers had finally completed the massive extension of the regional administrative buildings allowing Laura to open its doors with a significant amount of pomp an ceremony almost exactly on time and to budget.

With unemployment across the continent still at close to 8% there had been no problems at all recruiting the additional staff who job it would be to help provide oversight and coordinate the economies of not just Luyten but now GJ 1065 and Delta Trianguli a well. Their efforts would help to lift the economic performance of the entire region and in turn hopefully project her own career to more stellar levels.

August 2060

1st August 1400Z
“Sir, message just received from Lieutenant Commander Collier; they’ve completed salvage operations on the first wreck and are happy to report the successful recovery of a couple of sensors, five engines and five troop drop compartments. Commander Collier is now convinced these wrecks are the same design as the Mech troop transports that have previously been captured”.

“Very good Ensign” replied Barnett “please send my congratulations on a great start to the operation to the Commander and ask her if she would be so kind as to provide an updated estimated time to complete the salvage of the other wrecks”. “Aye aye sir” responded the ensign.

Barnett sat back in his chair, the mission was continuing to progress well with no further communications from the X’Ching and no discernable reaction from their vessel to either his task group’s progress into the system or their obvious focus on the wrecks.

1st August 1353Z
“Sir, message from Captain Booth, they’ve just detected the X’Ching vessel breaking orbit. Current track puts them on a course for our current location”. Barnett jerked upright in his chair, “Relay that plot to my console; have we received any messages from them”?

“Nothing received sir, Captain Booth reports that the vessel has accelerated to just under 4000 km/s and confirms they are on an intercept. Current time to our location is just under 20 hours”.

“Ok, that gives us a little bit of time to play with. Inform the salvage group that they are to suspend operations and make immediate preparations to get under way at short notice. Let’s see if we can raise this lot, I’d rather avoid any sort of incident with them”.

1st August 1623Z
Two and a half hours later Barnett was starting to feel the pressure. So far the X’ching had failed to respond to any of their hails or requests to talk. He’d also discovered that simply switching off the salvagers wasn’t much of an option. The salvage crews had already started cutting into the next wreck and this was now being largely held in once piece by the multiple tractor beams of the main salvage vessel. Switching those off would result in the wreck rapidly twisting itself apart, potentially triggering unexploded ordnance or still active reactors that had not yet been checked and cleared by the salvage crews.

“Sir, Captain Booth reports that we are likely entering the X’Ching’s active sensor range”. The ensign listened to his counterpart on the TFS Burma for a few more moments. “Sir, they’ve definitely spotted us, sensors are detecting a tight beam comms array directed at our vessels. Message is coming through, Burma running the translation now”.

Captain Barnett hunched forward in his seat. “Well ensign, what exactly are they saying to us”? “Sir, the comms team are reporting some difficulties with the new language. It’s not a tone that was included in the original package. Ok, they think they have it. We are required to leave the system immediately, this system and its’ resources belong to the X’Ching. Sir, the message appears to be repeating in a loop”.

“Ok, I’ve heard enough, I think we’ve outstayed our welcome here. Tell the salvage team to drop that wreck, we are just going to have to take a risk on it. All civilian vessels are to break for the jump point at best speed. The escort group will drop a little way behind to cover the move”.

1st August 1828Z
Finally Barnett gets the report he has been waiting to hear from his watch officer. “All ships report underway, the salvage group have managed to successfully jettison that wreck without damage although their systems are going to need a complete refurb before using again”.

A few minutes later Barnett also gets another update from Captain Booth: “It looks like the X’Ching have changed course in reaction to our move, plot projections show they are now headed straight for the EG 453 jump point. I think we must assume that they both aware of the jump point and our use of it.  Given the speed of out civvies they are going to overhaul us well before we make it to the gate”.

Barnett spent a few moments digesting this latest info before responding, “Ok, let’s just keep an eye on them for the moment. In the meantime we will bring the task group up to the salvage group.  Are we certain that we are responding to them on the right frequencies”? “Yes sir, replied the comms officer, we are using the same broad frequency spread as we did for initial contact as well as the frequencies they have used to communicate with us”.
“In that case we shall continue to maintain a passive stance, continue to broadcast on all frequencies and withdraw from the system in the shortest time possible. Exo, we are past watch change over and nothing is going to be happening for a good while. Please rotate the crew. I’m going to go down as well, ping me if anything changes”.

2nd August 0849Z
Barnett has been back on the bridge for over three hours. The continuing efforts of his comms officers have yielded no response from the X’Ching. Meanwhile their vessel has continued to gain ground towards the jump point and has also narrowed the distance to less than 250mkm. Barnett is beginning to get concerned. At the current rate the X’Ching’s vessel will easily make it to the jump point ahead of them, at best meaning they will be able to confirm the Federation vessels’ point of origin. They would also be well positioned to follow them back towards GJ1065 and the substantial population now in place there. At worst it could also mean that he would have no option but to engage the hostile if he needed to fight his way back through the jump point; not something he relished the prospect of given the great lumbering civilian vessels he was escorting.

“Ok, listen up people. We can’t allow that vessel to either get in front of us or trail us through the jump point. We are therefore going to take some measured steps to attempt to change the status quo. Comms cease broadcasting the broad spectrum messages and just send a tight beam request on repeat asking them to withdraw back to the second planet whilst we depart from the system. I also want a warning that they should not get within 250mkm of our task group. Any such action shall be considered a hostile act.

2nd August 0949Z
The tension on the bridge has risen significantly over the last hour as the X’Ching vessel has continued to close with the task group and is now at 227mkm, well within the warning zone.

“Sir, still no respond to our hails, we know they are receiving as we are getting a handshake confirmation from their own comms systems.
“Right, we are going to have to take this up a notch then to see if they will notice us. Inform the Burma that I want her to go active with her main sensor and that she should perform a full scan of that vessel” responded Barnett.

A few moments later Burma reported activating their sensor, seconds after that the sensor operator starts to call out, “Contact, contact, range 227.9mkm, bearing 284 degrees, ten craft all massing 8000 tons”.

Well thought Barnett, that probably solves the riddle as to whether those wrecks were already here or if the X’Ching were behind them. “Thank you, please continue to monitor the X’Ching task group and report and changes of course and speed and make sure you have those feeds sent down to the Int. team, I would all the information possible on those ships”. Barnett worked to keep a steady tone in his voice as he continued to issue further orders. He could see that the bridge crew were unnerved by the new contacts and their lack of communication so he knew maintaining an air of calm would be critical in keeping the crew focused.

2nd August 2009Z
Barnett was back on the bridge again. About 15 minutes ago the X’Ching had slowed to match their speed with his own task group. With their converging vectors it now just be a matter of time before the two task groups got uncomfortably close. Barnett had therefore resolved to take action if the X’Ching continued to avoid has warnings and broke 200mkm separation.

7th August 0042Z
Barnett was back on the bridge. The two task groups had continued to inch closer together over the past five days despite the increasingly aggressive warnings been sent to the X’Ching. A little while ago the X’Ching task group had broken his self-imposed 200mkm exclusion zone and were showing no sign of altering their course.

Barnett took one last look at the plot, willing the X’Ching to change course, before tapping the ship address icon. “All hands this is the Captain. Regretfully I must inform you that the X’Ching have failed to respond to our hails and requests to allow us to withdraw from the system without interference. A little over ten minutes ago their task group moved to within 200mkm of our own. We cannot allow them to get any closer to our unarmed vessels. Therefore it is my intention to turn our escort group directly towards the X’Ching and attempt to force them to back off. We will then use our superior speed to catch up with the salvage group before exiting the system. If our efforts fail we will engage the X’Ching sensor vessel, eliminate their ability to track us and withdraw.

As I’m sure you are all aware, the Federation can little afford to open hostilities with yet another race so I am counting on all of you to retain a cool head and follow your orders to the letter. Barnett out”.

7th August 0442Z
 “Sir, range to X’Ching now 160mkm, no detected change in speed or bearing”. “Thank you ensign” replied Barnett, “All ships prepare to lock hostiles as soon as we reach fire control range”.

Five minutes later claxons sounded across the bridge whilst alerts flashed across Barnett’s console. “Sir sensors are showing that the X’Ching just achieved target lock on us at over 159mkm”. Barnett grimaced, that was almost 40mkm further than his own destroyers’ fire controls. “Cancel that alert, looks like they are sending their own warnings around not getting too close. Let’s continue to close but reduce speed to 2500 km/s to show we have detected them”.

Thirty seconds later the sensor officer reported again “Sir, the X’Ching are changing course, they’ve come to a bearing of 244 degrees and have accelerated to 2500 km/s”. Around the bridge Barnett could see his watch officers grinning to one another. “Ok people, it looks like they have finally responded, let’s keep on our current bearing and speed. We need to keep pushing them away from the salvage group so they have enough time to jump clear. Drop our speed down to 2450 km/s, we can afford to let them gain some more distance from us now”.

7th August 0713Z
“Vampire, Vampire! We have thirty two inbound missiles, range 6.4mkm”. Barnett took a moment to register the news before half leaping at his command panel to raise the task group. “All ships action stations, emergency reverse on my con officer’s mark, lay in an intercept for the Salvage group, anti-missiles engage as soon as in range” shouted Barnett.

In the background he could hear the follow on orders from the deck and half subconsciously he braced himself for the crushing deceleration of the extreme manoeuver he had just ordered.  Meanwhile he stared down at the plot trying to think of the best plan of action.

Moments later his body was slammed into the back of the acceleration crouch as the Burma flipped before going to full power. As the Gs piled on he could see the first touches of tunnel vision whilst the destroyed hummed from the strains that not even its’ Transnewtonian hull could fully compensate for. Then, just as soon as the pressure had hit it dropped away, leaving the task group heading back to the Salvagers at over 6000 k/ms.

“Contact update, missiles appear to be in four salvos of 8, speed just 15,000 km/s, the computer has graded them size 16. Our anti missiles should be able to deal with these quite easily” reported the warfare officer. “Well please ensure that you do, I don’t a single one of those lumbering beasts anywhere near my task group” responded Barnett.

“Vampire, Vampire! New contacts, range 1mkm, we have another 160 inbounds. Britain and Bulgaria report engaging”. "Say again number of inbounds Ensign" responded Barnett, not quite believing what he had heard. "160 new inbounds sir, speed 30,000 km/s". This time Barnett responded immediately “order the AD ships to limit anti missiles to two per incoming, set gauss cannon to final defensive fire”.

Almost coldly the warfare officer started to read out the results of the anti-missile fire.

“First intercept, 25 hits”.

“Second intercept, 22 hits, range to contacts 405kkm”.

“Third intercept, 23 hits, range 166kkm”

“Fourth intercept, 33 hits, range 47kkm”

Barnett hit the comm to the task group, this time unable to contain the stress in his voice “all ships evasive manoeuvres now”. Then, the moment his own message finished, he heard the voice of his watch officer over the general band "all hands Brace Brace Brace".
« Last Edit: December 17, 2013, 05:06:27 PM by chrislocke2000 »

Offline Sematary

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Re: Worlds Collide
« Reply #23 on: December 17, 2013, 06:23:38 PM »
Great to see this update. It is a great addition to one of the best stories running right now.

Offline ollobrains

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Re: Worlds Collide
« Reply #24 on: December 25, 2013, 08:02:12 PM »
so the taskgroup and the salvagers are about to go boom boom and the navys doctorine is about to be thrown into chaos

Offline MarcAFK

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Re: Worlds Collide
« Reply #25 on: December 26, 2013, 06:08:26 AM »
Really, what were they expecting poking about in somebody else's home system, but surely any navy would have considered it to be worth the risk, perhaps the risk might have mitigated with smaller thermally shielded ships sneaking around the system, watched by large passive sensors.
Great story so far, I'm impressed by the diverse characters populating the story, it really does draw a rich picture compared to the alternative which would be dry recital of statistics and numbers.
" Why is this godforsaken hellhole worth dying for? "
". . .  We know nothing about them, their language, their history or what they look like.  But we can assume this.  They stand for everything we don't stand for.  Also they told me you guys look like dorks. "
"Stop exploding, you cowards.  "

Offline chrislocke2000 (OP)

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Re: Worlds Collide
« Reply #26 on: December 27, 2013, 06:17:51 PM »

7th August 0720Z
“All stations report” shouted Barnett at his bridge command staff the moment the bone crunching changes in direction, plotted entirely by the ships on-board navigation systems, ceased.

“Sir, all stations still shows green across the board, looks like nothing got through to us. Sensors are showing twenty three 4 megaton explosions. Our final wave of anti-missiles picked off another 33 before they hit and the gauss cannons caught another six. Reports from the other vessels are coming in now sir”.

“Ok, let’s get the last of those missiles out of our sky. I don’t want anything that big getting anywhere near us”.

“Aye sir, Britain and Bulgaria are engaging now. Reports are in from the task group. Looks like Britain took a couple of hits but her armour holding. Bolivia took the brunt of the hits and is reporting armour breaches in three locations. She’s lost a couple of tubes but otherwise is holding together. Lieutenant Commander Sykes is reporting heavy casualties though; initial estimates are over 60 dead, the full report is going to your screen now”.

Barnett thumped the rest of his command chair at the news. “Right, we can’t sit alongside the salvage group and leave those ships to lob missiles at us all day long. Lay in a news course, target is their sensor vessel. We will close to our own missile range and engage those ships. Instruct the Bolivia to do her best in getting those tubes operational, I want our maximum possible weight of fire when we do engage”.

7th August 0722Z
“Sir, the Britain and Bulgaria report all remaining missiles destroyed. AMM reserves are at 70% and 72% respectively although they are reporting a mix of mark 3 and mark 4 Stirges. Bolivia is reporting commencement of repairs. Burma reports that the hostiles have accelerated back to their apparent maximum speed of just under 4000 km/s . Estimated time to maximum firing range is eleven and a half hours”.

Barnett grimaced. His task group were more than likely to come under multiple attacks over that period. He could only hope that the X’Ching had very few of those monstrous missiles to throw at them. Thank god his ships got the engine upgrade before that plan was axed.
7th August 0922Z
“Sir, Bolivia is reporting that they have successfully repaired one of their launchers. They are continuing to work on the other two and are confident they will be completed before the task group reaches engagement range. “Excellent news, give my compliments to the commander” responded Barnett.

7th August 0927Z
“Vampire Vampire! 32 new Size 16 contacts. Range 6.25mkm, speed 15,000 km/s”

“All ships, emergency break and reverse course on my con officer’s mark” shouted Barnett into the comm.

“All ships responding, sir Britain and Bulgaria and reporting an error in the reset of their fire controls, they’ve both launched a volley at the incoming”.
God damn it thought Barnett, as if we don’t have enough problems to deal with. “Order them to do an emergency flush of the system and reset for 2v1 at 1mkm”.

7th August 0933Z
“Vampire Vampire, 160 new contacts, range 980kkm, speed 30,000 km/s. Britain and Bulgaria indicate successful launch”.

“Very well, alert all ships to prepare for evasive manoeuvres” responded Barnett far more calmly than before.

“Interception, 35 hits, range 621k”.
“Interception, another 35 hits, range 383k”.
“Interception, 18 hits, range 264k”.
“Interception, 4 hits, range 145k”.
“Interception, 25 hits, range 26k”.

“All ships evasive manoeuvres, brace for impact” call Barnett.

Moments later Barnett is slammed into the side of his seat from more than just the ship’s violent manoeuvres, leaving him partially stunned. Around him the lights flicker briefly before coming back to full strength. Shaking his head to try and remove some of the stunning effects of the impacts his ship has just taken Barnett croaks out orders. “Exo, get me a full damage report, sensors how many got through, comms get me updates from the rest of the task group”.

After what seems an age to Barnett the reports started coming back. “Sir, looks like we took about 19 hits, the armour held but only just, we’ve got a few patches where the whole armour belt has ablated” reported the exco.

“Sir, Task Group report, Burma took one hit and Bolivia got hit again but no further internal damage, we took the brunt of it this time. Britain and Bulgaria are down to less than 45% of their stores of AMMs and both have used nearly all of their Mark 4s.  Their Gauss cannon took out another couple of missiles and it looks like we managed to evade another 5 or 6” reported the comms officer.

A few moments later the Britain reported destroying the heavy but very slow size 16 missiles and Barnett turned the task group once again towards the X’Ching.

“Exo, let’s start rotating the crew off stations, give them a chance to get some food and a cat nap, this is going to be a long chase”.

7th August 1136Z
“Vampire Vampire! 32 size 16 contacts. Range 6.25mkm, speed 15,000 km/s”

This time it was the turn of the executive officer to respond as Barnett charged back up towards the bridge from his ready room. “All ships, reverse course, prepare to engage incoming missiles and set for evasive manoeuvres”.

Barnett made it back to the bridge and his command chair as their second volley of anti-missiles streaked towards the recently detected wave of 160 size 2 missiles. As before the huge wave of missiles slowly weathered the storm of their own anti-missile fire but this time the Mark 3s were showing their age and lesser impact as fewer hostile contacts were picked off.

Once again the cry to brace for impact went out, then everything went black.

7th August 1139Z
Barnett groaned as he came to. His head felt like it was being hammered and he was pretty sure he must have cracked a few ribs. Slowly his senses began to return, the smell of acrid smoke in the air burned at his nose whilst he could vaguely hear shouting above the ringing in his ears. Barnett concentrated on taking some steadying deep breaths, willing his blurred vision to clear.

Finally his vision and hearing cleared enough so he could make out the bridge once more. A number of his crew remained slumped in their crash couches whilst others were shouting into their comm units. The whole room was dimly lit by the emergency lighting system that added a sense of surrealism to the scene in front of him.  Elsewhere several consoles had been sprayed with fire suppressant foam.

Barnett’s eyes eventually landed on his first officer “Exo report”. His exo swung round to address him “Ah sir, thank goodness you are ok. That last salvo really pummelled us. We have multiple hull breaches and several of our engines are off line. There’s also damage to the missile systems and we were forced to eject ordnance when some of the magazines got hit. It’s looking pretty bad but we are still operational. Reports are still coming in but it looks like we lost about 80 of the crew. I’ve put the damage control teams on the engines as a priority. What is your orders sir”?

“What about the rest of the task group?” asked Barnett. “We lost the Bolivia sir, sensors are still coming back on line but it looks like she suffered multiple hits before one of her engines had a catastrophic failure which tore the rest of the ship apart” responded his exo.

“Good God, are there any survivors”?

“We’ve picked up several life pod distress beacons, I was just about to ask the Burma to take the lead for the task group and begin recovery operations when you came round” responding the exo.

“Ok, let’s get the task group back together and those life pods picked up. I want a full damage report and weapons status for all vessels”.

7th August 1150Z
“Sir, Burma reports taking 174 survivors on board, including Lieutenant Commander Sykes” informed the exo. “Thank you lay in a new intercept course for the X’Ching task group, best speed for all vessels until we can get our engines up and running again”.

“Sir, do you think that’s wise?” queried the exo. We won’t survive another volley and the two area defence vessel have less than 20% of their ammunition remaining. Despite our damage we are still substantially faster than them and could easily out manoeuvre them”.

“I quite agree with you. Unfortunately I seriously doubt we would be able to either out run or out manoeuvre those missiles of theirs. We are already more than four hours inside their known maximum flight range so even if we turn around now we aren’t going to evade them. Our best hope therefore is to continue to push them away from the Salvagers for as long as possible and hope it gives them enough space to get away”.

7th August 1220Z
“Sir, Burma is reporting that the X’Ching task group has changed direction to 328 degrees. That puts them on a course for one of the two unexplored jump points in system”.

Barnett smiled, that was the first piece of good news he had heard just about all day. “Ok, update our course to continue to track in, with any luck they’ve run out of missiles to lob at us”.

7th August 1848Z
“Sir, range is now down to 59.2mkm”.

“Ok, time to give these X’Ching a taste of Federation firepower. Exo, I believe that our rules of engagement allow us to fire on the X’Ching in these circumstances, do you concur”. “I do sir” responded the exo. “In that case please instruct the warfare officers to open fire with all available launchers. Primary target is the Heimdall. We will retain three follow up volleys for use depending on effect”.

Four minutes later Barnett’s warfare officer reported all missiles clear from their tubes, diagnostics green and arming sequence completed.

7TH August 1909Z
“First volley has intercepted the target. No sign of anti-missile missiles. We lost four to point defences but 17 Harpies found their target. Spectrographic analysis indicates at least two hull breaches. The Heimdall appears to have dropped out of formation as a result” reported the warfare office.
“We just lost 8 of our second wave 397k from target, looks like they have woken up over there and started deploying anti-missiles”.

“Five more have been intercepted 147k from target”.

“Impact impact, nine hits detected. The Burma reports losing contact with the X’Chings active search sensor; that last volley must have taken it out. The Heimdall is still running but its’ slowed to just 1575 km/s”.

Tough little ship thought Barnett as he continued to watch the trace of closing missiles. Moments later Barnett smiled with satisfaction as the last few missiles left from the third volley ripped into the Heimdall leaving nothing but a wreck.

Despite the destruction of their main sensor vessel the X’Ching task group continued to engage and destroy a large number of the subsequent volleys of Harpy 4s. By the end of the assault just one additional ship was showing signs of internal damage.

Barnett looked at the display for a few minutes considering his options. His two missile destroyers still had several more volleys of anti-ship missiles left so there was a chance he could inflict more damage on the hostile vessel. However, he was near enough defenceless from any counter attack, his own ship had already taken a serious beating and the crew had been pushed hard for the last few days. He needed to get out of this system as soon as possible, bring the news to the wider Federation and get his own ships repaired. Fortunately, with the X’Ching’s only apparent sensor vessel destroyed, he should be able to exit the system without being detected.

Having made up his mind Barnett started to issue orders for the long journey home.

Eta Cassiopeiae
Administrator Shah was back in his office after yet another bruising round of negotiations with the settlement’s civilian representatives. Whilst the delivery of the hammerhead fighters had done a fantastic job of helping to alleviate the people’s concerns over protection, unfortunately it had also given them the chance to think more about the terrible rates on unemployment on the planet.

Shah had already undertaken a programme of manufacturing expansion but with limited facilities already in place the rate of expansion was being far outstripped by the population growth. What he really needed now was the shipment of several more factories from Earth so he could at least make the planet a little more self-sufficient. He could also bring forward the much demanded series of ordnance factories that would ensure the planet had munitions to actually use in its PDCs and fighter squadrons.

Sighing he started to open up the comms channels to Catherine Short, the sector administrator back on Earth, to see if she could help move the process along even a little bit.

September 2060

Sol – Navy Command
Vice Admiral Shots was sat back in the main briefing room of Navy command nursing a sore head and a large mug of coffee. Around him sat the similarly bleary eyed and slightly dishevelled members of his command group as well as a couple of government officials and junior ministers. He’d left his seat just four and a half hours earlier having ordered the emergency response committee to take a short break. They had now been working on a response to the clear and present danger of the X’Ching aliens for close to three days straight but had made little progress towards an agreed response.

Since the news of the X’Ching’s aggression broke across the news waves two days ago much of the planet was in uproar. Parliament had been forced to deploy troops in several cities in order to try and contain rioting whilst a further detachment was deployed around Navy HQ, keeping a wary eye on a large group of demonstrators that had gathered outside the main entrance. In a matter of days the voice of the anti-expansionist movement had gained a huge amount of weight and with it popular support. In fact most of the protestors sat around HQ were with the anti-expansionist movement.

In stark contrast many more people were demanding immediate retaliation through the launch of a huge expeditionary force to find the X’Ching home planet and remove the threat for good. They were urging the acceleration of the Navy’s exploration programme to make sure such alien menaces could be found and dealt with before they found Earth. More than one of the riots had been the result of fighting between the groups with these very different points of view. Such a range in views were also being expressed by the members of the response committee which was why it was taking so long to try and agree on some sort of middle ground that would hopefully keep all sides at least somewhat mollified.

Having spent well over a day picking apart the sensor and optical recordings of the Anderseriks encounter including watching the destruction of the TFS Bolivia and working through the casualty list, Shots was more than ready to consider such a response. Unfortunately the Federation’s current Navy was unlikely to be up to the task, largely as a consequence of the Federation’s real estate and population expanding nearly threefold in the last few years whilst the Navy itself had perhaps grown by no more than 25%. The need to defend so many planets along with so large a swath of space was already stretching them and the associated infrastructure to the limit. Any expedition at this stage would therefore either need to be very limited or require large areas to be left virtually defenceless and that certainly wasn’t an option.

Looking around Shots could see that they were still waiting for a few of the committee to remerge after last night’s recess so he grabbed one of the intelligence reports to reread whilst he was waiting.  

The report was depressingly short, reflective of the limited information the intelligence officers had access to. Consequently much of it was conjecture based upon the best estimates of both the intelligence and scientific community.

Captain, or rather Commodore Barnett following his recent promotion, had performed admirably with the limited resources he had to hand. Managing to force a retreat by the X'Ching whilst protecting the salvage group had been a fantastic feat even if it had evolved no small amount of luck as well - just one more volley of those massive missiles would have likely devastated the remaining ships in his task group. As it was, loosing just one vessel and suffering significant damage to one more in return for the destruction of one enemy vessel and damage to at least a few more when the enemy significantly outnumbered them was undoubtedly a good outcome despite the loss of life it had entailed.

All of the information pointed to the X'Ching being a race that was somewhat less advanced than the Federation; but that margin appeared to be a lot narrower when compared to every other race encountered to date. In particular it looked like their warhead technology was at least on a par with the Federation.

The analysis of their missile technology was a definite concern. The whole scientific establishment agreed that it would be impossible for the X'Ching to build size 2 missiles with the size of warhead seen as well as having such a huge range. All indications where therefore that the size 16 missiles were in fact some sort of long range single use launch platform for those size 2 missiles. The result was massive waves of small but relatively hard hitting missiles which clearly had the capacity to rapidly saturate all but the most significant levels of defensive fire. In fact analysis showed that  if the anti-missile destroyers had not been carrying the mark 4 Stirges the destroyer's own defences would have been overwhelmed by every volley.

Exactly how far from their targets the missiles separated was unknown but it was clear that if they could intercept these larger, far slower, missiles before they would need far fewer anti missiles to protect against attack. A new class of anti-missile, the Imp, had already been given approval and would be put into detailed design immediately. The new missile would have a range of at least 30mkm ensuring that the latest anti-missile fire controls could take full advantage of the maximum possible engagement range.

On the sensor side the X'Ching appeared to mount a capable sensor package although general consensus was that the the task group and the salvage group were not detected until the first wreck was salvaged. One area where the federation seemed to have a clear advantage was in the field of propulsion. Whilst they couldn't be certain that the speed advantage was due to technological advantage rather than engine space allocation or efficiency the speeds of their missile indicated either ion or magneto plasma technology. Whatever the situation, the substantial speed advantage of the recently upgraded destroyers had significantly helped Barnett to manage the tactical situation and had reignited the discussion as to whether all of the Federation's current Navy vessels should have their engines upgraded.

Finally it looked as if the X'Ching vessels were particularly well armoured having required a large number of hits from the heavy hitting Harpy missiles. It meant that they would probably need volleys of between 30 and 40 Banshee missiles to destroy a single target.

All in all the Intelligence community had concluded that fighter strikes from beyond the range of the X’Ching’s own missiles should be more than possible and, given the effectiveness of the relatively small throw weight of the destroyers, should also be highly effective in engaging the X'Ching vessels. That therefore just left the few fairly thorny issues of how to free up the carrier groups from their various defensive duties in order to deploy them against the X'Ching, how to locate their home world and how to push the Federation's logistics chains far beyond their current limits.

So far the committee had at least agreed that the land based defences around GJ 1065, Luyten 1305-10 and 107 Piscium should be substantially upgraded. To achieve this Luyten's economy would be refocused on military support. They had also agreed that the design and construction of orbital defence platforms needed to be accelerated. The massive shipyard retrieved from the Followers would therefore be repurposed to build the platforms rather than more littoral cruisers whilst the design of a twin laser turret would also be brought forward.

Looking up Shots realised that the remainder of the committee had since filed back into the briefing room and were waiting for him to recommence proceedings. Shots took a few calming breaths before calling the meeting to order, it was likely to be another very long day.

Sol – London
Carter was back in his office, his recent trip to the shipyards in orbit around Mars cut short by the news of the hostilities with the X’Ching. Carter knew it would only be a matter of time before someone at Navy command stopped worrying about the X’Ching and started to wonder as to exactly where the orders to go back into Anderseriks with the salvage group and just a lightly armed escort came from. Given the loss of life and the fact the Federation might once again be teetering on the brink of war he also knew that anyone who started asking those questions was unlikely to be put off by the false trail that had been laid.

What he needed was a highly credible fall guy, someone who would have had the connections to pull it off and the motivation to do so, someone who was willing to blackmail, cheat and steal to make it to the top. A wry smile spread on Carter’s lips, he knew just the person who would fit the bill nicely.
After straightening his tie and checking his appearance in a small mirror Carter sat back down at his desk. He paused for a few moments, thinking of what exactly to say, before activating the holo imagers and recording his message.

107 Piscium – The Belorussia
Barnett was sat in his quarters gazing out at the star field being projected on one of the walls. He had just spent more than four hours working through the last of his personal condolence letters for all the crew members he had lost in Anderseriks. Each one of those letters had made his recent promotion more bitter than the last and, not for the first time since making it back to Federation space, he was again replaying the battle in his head, looking for where he might have avoided the engagements or prevented the destruction of the Bolivia.

A knock at the door brought him out of his contemplation. After the battering they had received in Anderseriks a number of the Belorussia’s internal systems including the comms had been working intermittently at best. Given the list also included some of the life support systems the crew had understandably resorted to more old fashioned methods of communicating with one another rather than focus their time maintain less critical areas. “Please come in” called out Barnett. A moment later his exo entered his cabin.

“Sir, I’ve just had the latest reports up from the boatswain. The last survey shows no further deterioration in the running repairs. The team paid particular attention to the missile tube actuators after that last pressure build up, no further signs of problems there. All the other bulkhead seals are showing green as well”.

“That’s good news but I want to keep up with the four hourly inspections for at least a few more cycles. Being this far out in deep space with only patchwork covering several chunks of our hull I think it best we stick to the prudent side of safe don’t you think?” replied Barnett.
“I quite agree. Latest navigation update puts us in orbit at the Luyten dockyards in fifteen and a half days’ time. The crew will have more than enough of a chance to relax then”.

“Ok, carry on. Just make sure you get a shift in the bunk as well. I know we are all stretched with the reduced crew on top of the repairs but I need you sharp to make sure we don’t miss anything before it’s too late”.

“Aye Sir” replied the exo before saluting and making his way back out of Barnett’s cabin, leaving him to return to his musings.

GJ 1065
For the first time in months Colonel Foster wasn’t either cooped up in some small barracks or up to her neck in alien technology. This time she was busy overseeing the massive ground works that would form the foundations for the prefabricated PDCs that were due to be shipped in from Luyten in the next few months. Foster was also the happiest she had been in months; the news of the tragic events in Anderseriks had at first been quite shocking especially when she thought of all the effort she had gone to in order to get a herself and a small unarmed scout ship into that system. However, over the last few days that shock had turned to thankfulness for her good fortune; it seemed to her that perhaps fate had played a role in preventing her from getting to the system.

There was however little time to celebrate her good fortune, the schedule set by Navy command meant that her engineers were in for a gruelling couple of months and she would need every ounce of her wit and knowledge to make sure they hit that target. Not one of them were complaining though, the sooner they got the sensor suite and missile defences up and running the better.

107 Piscium – Planet A IV
Kai Winter smiled at the couple of administration staff he passed as he sauntered towards his office. Ten minutes earlier his data pad had pinged to inform him of a priority encoded message from administrator Carter back on Earth. With the war ended Kai was finally going to get off this rock and back to a plush job back on Earth. He was therefore savouring the walk up through the labyrinth of tunnels and passageways that connected the habitats.
Finally, after a leisurely fifteen minute stroll and with a mug of fresh coffee in hand, Kai settled down in front of his desk before keying in his command codes to access the secure comms system that was reserved for the military and senior civilian administrators. In front of him the holo projector sprung to life displaying Carter’s familiar face and office surroundings.

“Kai, first of all let me congratulate and thank you for the incredible job you have been doing through these pressing times. Your contribution to the broader war effort has most certainly been recognised by all of us back home and again I can’t thank you enough for your efforts.  As I’m sure you are aware, with the cessation of hostilities between ourselves and the Followers we have moved to focusing our efforts on rebuilding the economies of both the Union and the Followers. Alongside out efforts the Navy is redeploying a number of carrier task groups to the area to ensure the continued safety and security of all three member races of the Federation. The management of our fledgling colony on 107 is therefore moving firmly under the remit of the Navy who will be leading efforts to continue its’ development. That means that your work there on 107 is done”.

Kai smiled and raised his coffee cup in mock salute to Carter’s image; the man had actually kept up his end of the bargain.

“However, the threats to the Federation are far from over, as has been amply demonstrated by our illustrious Navy’s recent encounter with the X’Ching. The Federation therefore continues to need great men like you to help protect our freedoms and everything else we have fought for since returning to the stars.

The council has met in response to this new threat and, as part of its' response, has unanimously voted to reassign you to the post of Governor of the Union’s home world in Luyten 1305-10. You will be responsible for leading more than a third of the Federation’s population and to reinvigorate their ailing economy as we prepare to face the X’Ching. Congratulations Kai and God speed to you”.

The holo recorder cut off abruptly at the end of Carter’s message. It took a stunned Kai a few moments longer to register that he was not in fact returning to Earth. A few moment after that he also realised he had just tipped half a cup of still scalding hot coffee over his lap. The scream that followed could be heard in the adjoining office block.

Glad you are enjoying the story so far. I have to say I'm finding some of the combat a bit more tense where my main characters are involved. I'm also pretty surprised that Barnett survived Anderseriks
« Last Edit: December 27, 2013, 06:26:56 PM by chrislocke2000 »

Offline Rastaman

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Re: Worlds Collide
« Reply #27 on: December 27, 2013, 07:52:01 PM »
"... and when you're using political authority you are using force, and force is violence, the supreme authority from which all other authority is derived. Naked force has resolved more issues throughout history than any other factor. The contrary opinion - that violence never solves anything - is wishful thinking at its worst. People who forget that always pay."

The only good bug, is a dead bug.
Fun Fact: The minimum engine power of any ship engine in Aurora C# is 0.01. The maximum is 120000!

Offline Stardust

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Re: Worlds Collide
« Reply #28 on: December 31, 2013, 02:17:41 PM »
Fantastic story.  I love the characters and their adventures.  I'm looking forward to the day Mr. Carter gets nailed to the wall.

Thanks and keep up the great work.

Offline Sematary

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Re: Worlds Collide
« Reply #29 on: January 01, 2014, 04:20:23 AM »
I really like Barnett's story this time around. Great work.