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New Cold War / Cold War: Month 208, Widespread Events
« Last post by Kurt on June 30, 2022, 10:09:08 AM »
Month 208, Day 25, Confederation of Free States (Union-Alliance buffer state)
An Alliance courier arrived over the Confederation capital on this date, with urgent messages for the Alliance Ambassador to the Colonial Union, who happened to be Rehorish.  These messages informed the Ambassador of the Colonial Union’s incursion into Alliance space, and the Rehorish and T’Pau suspicion that the incursion was in response to provocation by the D’Bringi.  Finally, the directed the Ambassador to establish negotiations with the Colonial Union to determine the extent of the situation and to attempt to determine a peaceful resolution. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Probably less likely if only because the D'Bringi fleets are still distributed throughout Alliance space and not in position for a general war, especially with Skull-Splitter and his fleet supporting the Alliance. The Keepers seem more interested in surviving than fighting, hence overtures to the rest of the Alliance trying to reassure them.
New Cold War / Re: Cold War Comments Thread
« Last post by Gyrfalcon on June 24, 2022, 07:10:07 AM »
I think the Keepers are shooting themselves in the foot. Their continued manipulation of the ICN network is blunt and hamfisted. If they kept themselves to only minor changes then it’d have been much harder to catch them at it.

I also see them attacking the T’Pau homeworld system to force passage and kicking off with the Alliance that way.
New Cold War / Cold War, Month 108 part 2, The Union Fleet arrives
« Last post by Kurt on June 23, 2022, 10:53:19 AM »
Month 208, Day 14, Alliance Dether system
The Colonial Union’s 1st Battle Fleet arrives in the inner system at 0800 hours.  Upon entering the inner system, it split up to cover the three colonies located there.  As her fleet approached the three Alliance colony worlds, Admiral Carstairs transmits a demand for their surrender. 

Admiral Carstairs was uneasy at the situation that she and her fleet had been placed in by the Union’s government.  The Senate had not voted to declare war, and it appeared that they would not until the situation was clearer, although they had voted to support the administration’s response to the D’Bringi raids.  The orders that were coming down to her from naval HQ in Epsilon Eridani were clear, she was to seize the Alliance colonies in the Dether system to force the Alliance to respond.  Her orders were couched in a way that stated that the seizure was intended to force the Alliance to the negotiating table, but could be interpreted several different ways, if she was so inclined.  And, although the administration had not sent along an ambassador, they had made it clear through back channels that they would not be upset if she took this opportunity to take the Alliance, and the D’Bringi, down a few notches.  Indeed, based on the news reports from home, in spite of the fact that the Senate had not voted to declare war, it was clear that the administration already considered themselves at war with the D’Bringi, if not the entire Alliance.  She had given much thought to the situation on the voyage out to Dether, and it was clear to her that the responsibility for going to war or not lay in her hands.  Her orders allowed her to be as aggressive as she wanted, up to a point, and she would be covered, especially since it was clear that the administration wanted a more aggressive response. 

Personally, she was inclined to grind the D’Bringi down a bit, and if their treacherous Rehorish allies got caught in the mix, that was too bad.  She remembered that bad old days, when the D’Bringi were raiding the Solar System, before humanity broke out into interstellar space.  The fear of the D’Bringi raiders hung over everyone’s head, poisoning everything.  Worse, she had always believed that the Last War, that almost destroyed Earth, was caused in one way or another by the pressure the D’Bringi were bringing to bear on the USSR.  The USSR started that war by launching on the other nations of Earth, but it was because of the position that the D’Bringi put them in.  They never paid for that, and like many others in the Union Defense Fleet it had burned at her soul to make peace with them after all of that.  But the Union had been at peace for many years now.  It was peaceful and prosperous, and under its guidance many new worlds had been colonized.  An entire generation had been born after the Last War and, if given the chance, would grow up without a war hanging over their heads.  Even Earth was well on its way to recovery.  As much as she wanted to make the D’Bringi feel the pain that they had brought to humanity, she wanted the next generation to grow up without fear.  So here she was, in an Alliance system, balancing war and peace. 

There had been much debate amongst her staff about whether or not the Alliance colonies in the Dether system would surrender with the Union Fleet in control of their system.  Sligo Sector HQ hadn’t had enough troops to send forward to occupy the Alliance colonies, and neither side in the last war had ever bombarded a population.  Without troops or the threat of bombardment, there was little for the colonial leaders on the Alliance worlds to fear from the Union fleet, however, there had been an evolving consensus within the Union that a planetary population that had been invested by an enemy fleet was better off surrendering than risking bombardment or destructive ground fighting.  That was, of course, within the context of a war with a polity that was of like mind to the Union or the Alliance, where bombardment was unlikely but eventual invasion was certain. 

The response from the three Alliance colonies was swift.  Two of the colonies were populated by T’Pau, and one by Rehorish, and within seconds of receiving her message all three governors responded.  All three colonies refused to surrender and accused the Union fleet of reckless adventurism and an unprovoked assault on the Alliance.  Admiral Carstairs was prepared for that.  When the last of the transmissions refusing her surrender demand was received, she ordered her comms personnel to transmit a message she had prepared in advance.  The message was sent to the three colonies, and broadcast unidirectionally throughout the system, in addition to being targeted on the three Alliance corvettes that she had allowed to shadow her command as they advanced into the system. 

The broadcast showed Admiral Carstairs on the bridge of her command superdreadnought.  Alliance naval personnel would surely note the size of the command deck, even if the message had been edited to blur most of the stations across the deck.  She wanted to impress the Alliance with Union technology and might, and showing off her command ship was the best way she could do that.  With the shot established, Admiral Carstairs stepped forward, towards the camera, and became the central focus of the broadcast.  “I am Admiral Carstairs, commanding officer of the 1st Battle Fleet of the Colonial Union.  Just over two months ago, the D’Bringi, operating as an organization called the D’Bringi Empire, launched an attack on two Colonial Union systems.  This attack was unprovoked and was a complete surprise.  In one of the two systems attacked the D’Bringi engaged the Union defense forces present and overwhelmed them.  In both systems the D’Bringi attacked and looted the Union colonies they found.  In total, the D’Bringi killed three hundred and forty-two humans, wounded many more, and looted thousands of megacredits of goods and supplies, and crippled the infrastructures of three colony worlds.  I don’t expect you to believe me, so I’m including recordings of the events I’m describing.  In response to this unprovoked attack by the Alliance, I have been ordered to invest this system and demand an explanation and reparations from the Alliance.  Union ground forces will arrive in this system next month, and if you continue to resist our determination to seek redress for the unprovoked attack on the Union, we will land those troops and take your planets by force.  You have until the troops arrive in this system to make up your minds.” 

The transmission then switched to show recordings of the two D’Bringi commanders justifying their attacks on the Union colonies, and then videos of the D’Bringi and subject troops landing on the colonies.  In particular the message focused on the fighting that had broken out on the first Sandhurst colony to be attacked.  The videos showed D’Bringi forces attacking humans that were clearly civilians who were desperately trying to defend themselves, sometimes supported by militia forces that were outgunned and outnumbered by the attacking D’Bringi.  The videos hadn’t been edited, and showed the inevitable end of most of the fighting, the quick destruction of the defenders by the superior D’Bringi forces. 

The Union broadcast was received on the Alliance colonies in the system, as well as the picket ships that had withdrawn to the outer system.  The picket ships rebroadcast it to the Alliance ICN buoy at the warp points that led to the other Alliance worlds, and from there it was broadcast throughout the Alliance.  Except that somehow the attached videos disappeared from the broadcast. 
New Cold War / Re: Cold War Comments Thread
« Last post by StarshipCactus on June 18, 2022, 10:27:16 PM »
It's all balancing on a knifes edge, hopefully the CU admiral can figure out that something is weird about the lack of a blockade or any traps and holds off from doing anything stupid and hopefully the Alliance does not try to shoot the CU ships just yet. If they can communicate properly they can explain whats up and maybe these Keeper fellows can be thrown off their new thrones. If not, the CU might be firing shots into an alliance that is already splitting down the middle, which will either drive them further apart or together briefly. If the Mintek find out about this they'll almost certainly want to take advantage.
New Cold War / Cold War: Month 108, part I
« Last post by Kurt on June 16, 2022, 10:06:28 AM »
Month 208, Day 1, Laramie System, Neutral Zone between the Alliance and the Colonial Union
The Colonial Union’s Fleet, moving up the warp chain from Sligo to the Alliance colonies in the Dether system, reached twelve light minutes from the warp point to the Dether system at 0600 hours.  The Fleet had been on the Alliance picket ship’s scanners for several days, but beyond twelve light minutes the contact was merely that, a drive field contact slowly approaching their position.  The picket ship’s scanners could reveal no more information than that, and with ongoing trade between the two nations, periodic contacts were expected.  Now that they had breached the twelve light minute bubble, though, the picket’s scanners were able to determine the number of ships in the approaching contact.  That’s when something near to panic set in.  No less than fifty-three ships were approaching their position.  That wasn’t a trade squadron, that was a fleet. 

After some confusion the picket corvette’s commander arrived on the corvette’s small bridge, and she quickly took control and calmed her crew down.  Their first priority was warning the Alliance that an invasion fleet was on its way, so she dispatched a CD back to the Dether system with their sensor log and a warning.  With that done, she brought up her corvette’s drives and sent a warning to the approaching contact, advising them that they were approaching Alliance territory and would be denied entrance. 

Thirty minutes later the corvette’s commander sagged in her combat harness in shock.  The approaching fleet’s commander had identified herself as Colonial Union Admiral Carstairs, and claimed that she was responding to Alliance aggression in Colonial Union territory.  The corvette commander sent a second CD off to her squadron-mates in the Dether system, and then sent a second message to the Colonial Union fleet, asking that they respect Alliance territory while the Alliance government responded to their concerns. 

This time the Colonial Union fleet didn’t respond, and the massive fleet continued on its course.  At its current speed it would enter the Dether system in twelve hours. 

Month 208, Day 1, Hour 18, Dether system, Alliance
Admiral Carstairs shook her head sluggishly, trying to dispel the nausea that always hit her during a transit.  Around her the superdreadnought’s bridge came back to life as the crew brought the massive ship back to life.  Soon they were receiving reports that indicated that space around the warp point remained clear.  The initial probe ships, a pair of scout-frigates, were positioned on opposite sides of the warp point, their powerful scanners watching for any signs of Alliance tricks.  Three contacts were visible, likely the Alliance picket squadron known to be stationed at the warp point.  The three Alliance corvettes were fifteen light seconds out, far enough away that they were out of weapon’s range, but close enough to get a read on the type of ships in the Colonial fleet.  Aside from the picket group there were no signs of Alliance presence within their sensor range. 

The heavy Colonial ships meant that the trip into the inner system would be a long one, but they had no choice.  The colonies in the inner system were their target, and once her fleet was orbiting the colonies, they would be in a position to demand answers from the Alliance.  Which was exactly what she intended to do.  Leaving behind a small picket group, the fleet set out for the inner system. 

Month 208, Day 2, Alliance
The invasion warning from the picket ships assigned to the Dether system spread across the entire Alliance through the now restored ICN.  The Far Frontier Sector Capital, in the Stahat system, just three jumps from Dether, received the warning first.  The Sector Capital had been established on Stahat III, which just happened to be the stronghold of the newly established D’Bringi Empire.  As such, the Sector Capital had had prior warning of the advance of the human fleet, but couldn’t react until now.  The Sector Capital’s first action was to send an emergency message to the D’Bringi forces that had withdrawn from the 6th Fleet and were on their way back to the D’Bringi home system.  They just ‘happened’ to be passing close to the Stahat system and were perfectly placed to respond.  The message ordered them to proceed to the Theom system and rendezvous with whatever other Alliance forces were able to make it to their location.  In the meantime, while Alliance strength was being built up, they were to defend the system and prevent the Colonial Union forces from advancing any further into the Alliance.  In spite of the irregular method in which the D’Bringi forces had withdrawn from the 6th Fleet, this order was well within the Sector HQ’s authority, and was well received when it arrived at the D’Bringi squadron.  The squadron’s commander was of mixed emotions about the new D’Bringi Empire, and had been unsure of what she would do when they reached the home world, but a human invasion was something different.  It was much clearer, and more direct.  She immediately ordered her squadron to set out for the Theom system.  Her twenty-nine ships turned to their new course without hesitation.  Their ETA was twenty days.

At the same time as the message went out to the D’Bringi ships of the 6th Fleet, a second message was sent from Stahat-III to a force assembled in the Stahat outer system.  This force consisted of thirty-five ships, and was composed of Imperial D’Bringi loyalists.  The Imperial Fleet left orbit soon after receiving the message, bound for the Theom system. 

A third message was sent from Stahat-III to the 6th Fleet in the Zir system of Villiers.  While the Sector HQ could not change an Alliance Fleet’s orders, it could advise the fleet commander of the situation and request he relocate to the threatened area.  In extreme situations the fleet commander had authority to act independently, although in most situations he or she would have to obtain Alliance HQ approval before changing their mission or making large scale changes to their deployments.  In this case the Sector HQ reiterated the invasion warning and requested assistance, but noted that the D’Bringi ships that had withdrawn from the fleet were close to the invasion area and were being ordered to respond.  The 6th Fleet commander, a T’Pau, immediately sent a request for approval to respond to the invasion, and dispatched a squadron of ships to reinforce those already responding. 

On the Rehorish home world, home port of the 1st Alliance Fleet, the warning was received with suspicion.  Two brand new couriers were dispatched to the Dether system to determine the actual situation, while more were sent to the T’Pau home world as a back up to the ICN, which they did not trust.  A secure comms link was being set up between the two home worlds, involving newly built communications corvettes, but that would take time, and suddenly time was in short supply.  For now, the T’Pau and the Rehorish decided to wait for their couriers to return from the area with an appraisal of the situation, while they set up their secure comms networks.  After all, if the Colonial Union wished to invade, they could come through the Confederated Free Systems and push into the Core Sector not far from Rehorish Prime, thus no forces would be sent to the frontier until the situation in the interior was secure.  After conferring, though, the T’Pau and the Rehorish gave the 6th Fleet commander approval to relocate as he saw fit. 

On the D’Bringi home world the situation was considerably more complex.   The new emperor had expected the Colonial invasion, and had in fact invited it.  That part of his plan had come off perfectly, but the situation within the Alliance was more unsettled than he had hoped.  His plan had been to decapitate the old government while hamstringing the Alliance’s communications and stirring up trouble with the Colonial Union.  While the Alliance chased ghosts in their comms systems, he would be given time to consolidate his position, and when the Colonial Union inevitably attacked, his forces would be perfectly placed to fight a valiant delaying action until the 6th Fleet, the largest assemblage of warships in the Alliance, could respond and finish off the Union forces once and for all.  What he hadn’t anticipated was the other Alliance leaders reacting so poorly to the disruption of the comms network.  Now he was sure they were conspiring against him, but there was nothing he could do.  He had made several overtures to the other Alliance leaders, suggesting that his representative be allowed to take their post on the Alliance Council, only to first be rebuffed, and then ignored.  Now, the T’Pau had made it clear that they would view it very poorly if D’Bringi warships entered their system without prior arrangement.  The T’Pau!   Acting as if they were equals! 

In any case, the invasion allowed him to put the Alliance 2nd Fleet, home ported in the D’Bringi Home system, on alert, and that was valuable in and of itself.  While he had replaced the fleet’s senior officers with his own supporters, the overall loyalty of the fleet was an unknown quantity, and having an external enemy would go a long-ways towards cementing the allegiance to the Empire. 

With an external threat on their doorstep, the D’Bringi emperor yet again transmitted a message to the other leaders suggesting reconstituting the Alliance Council with a new D’Bringi representative and addressing the threat in a coordinated manner.  In the meantime, he pledged that D’Bringi forces throughout the Alliance would resist the invasion with all of their might. 

Month 208, Day 4, Alliance Nagasaki system
The two D’Bringi colonies in the Nagasaki system had soundly rejected the new D’Bringi emperor’s call for unity and returning to the old ways, and since then had been trying to contact other D’Bringi colonies to determine their status and situation.  Unfortunately, the communications issues had hampered their efforts, leaving them isolated.  On this date a freighter entered their system carrying the announcement of opposition to the new order from Skull-Splitter.  Almost immediately the colonial governments on both planets disseminated the speech throughout their colonies, and the two governors in the system declared their support for Skull-splitter.  Unfortunately, they remained isolated, at least for now. 

Month 208, Day 7, Rehorish Prime
Skull-Splitter’s message arrived in the Rehorish home system on this day, via a fast freighter.  The message, coming on the heels of the invasion warning, unsettled the Rehorish government as the implications set in.  The ICN was still unreliable, as feared, and the D’Bringi were likely behind it.  And the D’Bringi were split, and perhaps in the beginning of a civil war. 

Month 208, Day 10, Alliance
Finally, the new communications corvettes were in place in between the T’Pau home world and the Rehorish home world, and secure communications had been established.  These communications were no faster than those running through the ICN, but they were on clean systems that were isolated from the ICN and thus were relatively secure.  Their first order of business was to agree to delay the re-establishment of the Alliance Council.  Both governments had initially been inclining towards granting the D’Bringi emperor’s request, however, with the arrival of Skull-Splitter’s message calling into doubt the legitimacy of the new D’Bringi government, they decided to wait. 

Month 208, Day 11, T’Pau Home System
On this date Skull-Splitter’s fleet of nine ships settled into orbit over T’Pau Prime.  They had been welcomed into the system on the strength of Skull-splitter’s reputation with the T’Pau.  Skull-Splitter was not with the ships, but had left a message with the fleet for the T’Pau authorities explaining the situation and requesting support for his ships until he returned.  The T’Pau were more than happy to provide this assistance. 

On the same day, Skull-splitter himself appeared at one of the warp points in the Rehorish home system, requesting to meet with Tai-shu Okada.  His voyage into the inner system would take five days. 
New Cold War / Cold War: Month 208, Situation Update
« Last post by Kurt on June 12, 2022, 10:40:19 AM »
Month 208, Colonial Union
The Colonial Union’s government is starting to feel more assured as the reinforcements have arrived for the fleets in the systems with the two known contact points with the Alliance.  With those systems as secure as they can be made, another issue has been rising to the fore.  If the Alliance wants war, why haven’t they taken any other action aside from raid two systems in the Sligo sector? 

The Prime Minister and her cabinet have blamed the assassination attempt against the Senate’s ambassador in the Confederated Free States on the Alliance, claiming it is further proof the Alliance doesn’t want peace.  The Prime Minister’s office has announced that the fleet now advancing on the Alliance colonies in the Dether system will exact justice for the dead colonists in the Sandhurst and Managua system, but has refused to explain what that means, claiming that it would infringe upon operational security. 

In the meantime, the Colonial Union’s shipyards are hurriedly turning out numerous escort carriers, to make up for a perceived shortfall in fighter strength among its front-line fleets.  Indeed, there are twenty-nine escort carriers currently under construction, which is 70% of the number of escort carriers currently in service.  In addition to the general shortage in carriers, the response to the Alliance aggression has revealed another weakness in the United Colonial Defense Fleet.  The Union’s supply network can only deliver about one half of the maintenance supplies that Admiral Carstairs’ fleet needs to the Dether system.  This problem was anticipated, and supply ships have accompanied the fleet, however, these ships only have enough maintenance supplies in their holds to support the fleet for five months, at current consumption levels.  If the fleet advances beyond the Dether system then it will be beyond the limits of the Union’s supply network, and thus demands on the fleet’s supply ships will increase, greatly decreasing the time they can remain on station.  Vice Admiral Bonaventura at Sligo has tried to scrounge up additional supply ships to send forward to Admiral Carstairs, but there are none available.  This is a problem, as the yards are full of escort carriers, and even if there was yard space available, it would take months to build and provision a supply ship, meaning for at least the near future Admiral Bonaventura will have to make do with what she has. 

Month 208, Alliance
In spite of the promises of the new D’Bringi Emperor, the Rehorish and T’Pau do not trust the ‘restored’ ICN, and will be using couriers and communications ships to provide reliable comms for the foreseeable future.  The next step, after establishing reliable communications between the T’Pau and Rehorish home worlds, will be to establish reliable comms with the Alliance fleets scattered throughout their territories. 

The new Imperial D’Bringi nation is focused on consolidating the power and authority of the new government on the nine colonies that immediately declared for the new government.  Rebellions and unrest have broken out on most of these worlds, but so far, the fighting is limited and the authorities on those worlds believe that they can subdue the unrest without outside assistance.  On the D’Bringi colonies that rejected the emperor’s declaration of the restored Empire, the situation is varied.  Eighteen of the colonies are recent expansions, and are primarily populated by those who under the old regime, or the new Empire, would be considered clan-less and thus relegated to virtual slavery as powerless drudge workers.  They thus naturally rejected the call for the re-establishment of the old order, but these colonies are mostly focused on surviving and securing their hold on their new planet, and have little power or industry to spare for much else.  They nearly uniformly decided to hunker down, aside from sending some messages through the ICN to fellow colonies, feeling them out for their stance on the new development.  Such messages either disappeared into the ether, or were answered suspiciously quickly with long tracts extoling the virtues of the new order.  Some of the larger colonies that initially rejected the Empire’s call suffered their own rebellions, and were absorbed by the effort to restore order within their borders.  They too were cut off from communicating with the other colonies, or the Alliance. 

The situation was somewhat different on the largest D’Bringi colony to reject the Empire, the colony in the Nagasaki system.  This colony had achieved medium size, and Nagasaki II was rated as “rich”, so the colony was decently industrialized.  The initial unrest that had broken out with the emperor’s announcement had been easily quelled, and the colony’s leaders had deduced that the ICN was unreliable.  By the middle of last month, they began to take the initiative and sent out representatives to the surrounding D’Bringi colonies to try to get a handle on the situation in the surrounding systems.  In addition, they sent representatives to the nearest Alliance Fleets for the same reason.     
New Cold War / Cold War: Month 207, part 4
« Last post by Kurt on June 09, 2022, 09:16:06 AM »
Month 207, Day 10, Alliance system of Stahat
A group of corvette-carriers, accompanied by freighters, entered the system and joined a second group that was waiting close to the warp point.  The Alliance ICN buoy stationed at the warp point observed the corvettes enter the system, but no entry was made in its logs and no contact report was sent.  Once the two groups had rendezvoused, they set out for the warp point that would take them to their eventual destination, the Dether system.  The Dether system contained three Alliance colonies, two T’Pau and one Rehorish, and although most within the Alliance didn’t know it, the system would soon be threatened by the Colonial Union. 

Month 207, Day 11, Alliance System of Phyriseq
The D’Bringi ships assigned to the 4th Fleet in the Phyriseq system had withdrawn from the Fleet assembly area close to the warp point to the Mintek home system some time ago.  Since then, they had been orbiting the Phyriseq colony, assisting the pro-Alliance governor maintain his government while Skull-Splitter recovered.  Now, finally, he was ready to act.

Skull-Splitter’s first move was to send a message as a counter to the emperor’s message.  The video began focused on Skull-splitter, who was sitting on the command deck of his battle cruiser.  Unlike the Emperor, who had appeared in the finery of the ancient emperors of D’Bringi, Skull-splitter appeared in the unadorned powered armor that was the signature of the elite warriors of the D’Bringi.  He had removed the helm for the broadcast, which revealed the hideous damage the assassination attempt had done to one side of his body and his head, leaving him crippled, at least until he had time for a full regeneration treatment.  For now, he was always in the armor, which gave him the mobility that he needed to lead his people. 

“I speak now to all D’Bringi throughout the Alliance.  You have all heard the message from the false emperor.  He is a last vestige of the old ways that we have left behind us.  He and his kind want to take us backward, back to the days when the clans dominated our society, and the empire in turn dominated the clans.  I too am a remnant of those days.  I was an am a leader of one of our so-called “great” clans.  The false emperor speaks of the old days with nostalgia, but he wants you to forget our dirty secret.  Our old ways were corrupt!  They enriched the few at the top of the clan hierarchy while oppressing most of our people.  I too used to support the old system, until I was introduced to new ways of doing things by our friends and allies in the Alliance.  It may seem safe and comforting to go back to the old ways, as the false-emperor demands, but those ways were a trap!  They oppressed and limited the vast bulk of our people to the benefit of the few.  The years since the cultural revolution have seen a flowering of our people that I will never forget!  Those who were marginalized under the old system suddenly were given opportunities, and like true D’Bringi they seized that opportunity and ran with it!   Under the old system our colonies were desultory strip-mining operations run by greedy clan chief’s with only one goal, to strip as much wealth from the new planet as possible to enrich them and their cronies.  Now, since the revolution, new colonies have sprung up everywhere, filled by D’Bringi intent on making new worlds for themselves.  Worlds where they and their children will be free to make their own futures!  Free to live their lives as they see fit, rather than bowing to some high-born clan lordling who never served on the front lines, or worked a real job!  I implore you, all of you, look closely at those who serve the false-emperor!  They are the worst of the old world, those who couldn’t adapt to the new ways.  Your choice is clear.  Only you can make that choice.”

“I speak now to the Alliance.  To our allies and friends.  You must understand what is going on within the D’Bringi Expanses.  The false-emperor has sworn to uphold the treaties with you, however, if he succeeds his path will inevitably lead him to attempt to dominate the Alliance.  To put the D’Bringi into a position of power over every other race within the Alliance.  The false-emperor was once the head of the Keeper order.  The Keepers were established to mediate between the great clans, and to ensure the future of the D’Bringi race by keeping the clans focused on any threats to our primacy and power, instead of on our petty internal bickering and constant warring on each other.  Once, the Keepers were necessary as the clans were corrupt and constantly fought each other as the Clan Chiefs sought to divert internal threats by instigating fights with the other clans.  Since the cultural revolution, though, the loss of power by the great clans led to an equal loss of power by the Keepers.  The Keepers have always been the conservators of our traditions, and that has made them by far the most traditional among us.  They have hated the cultural revolution and the changes it has brought from the first, and have fought it every step of the way.  I, and my fellow clan chiefs, have known of their opposition and it was a constant source of concern for us, but obviously we underestimated them.”  Skull-Splitter leaned forward in his seat, towards the camera.  “I do not ask our allies within the Alliance for help.  This is a D’Bringi problem and we will solve it in our way.  I do warn you, though.  The false-emperor has lied to you.  He blamed the ICN difficulties on myself and the other leaders of the previous government, however, that is not true.  No such project existed, not under our auspices.  None was needed, and that should be clear to all, as we were the leading proponents of working within the Alliance with the other races.  He and his Keepers are the ones who feared the other races.  He and his Keepers are the ones who have ‘gifted’ the clans with advanced technology when it suited their purposes.  Ask yourself, who would benefit the most from a disruption to communications at this time?  I failed to prevent this disaster, and now I must do all I can to stop this fanatic from leading the D’Bringi people into the abyss.”  The camera’s view drew back to show the entire bridge.  Standing behind Skull-Splitter was his son, also in powered armor.  Several marines stood at the back of the bridge, and all of the officers around the bridge now stood too, saluting in the old way, in support of their leader.  “I do not ask the Alliance for help.  This is a D’Bringi matter, to be finished by D’Bringi will.  My fleet has rallied around me in our time of need.  We will move to eliminate the usurper, and I now ask for the support of every free D’Bringi.  Follow me, to freedom!”

The message was broadcast across the Phyriseq system.  It was met by celebrations and acclaim on the already free colony and the fleet.  The message was dutifully recorded by the ICN buoy at the edge of the system, but somehow was not rebroadcast as it should have been.  Skull-Splitter had anticipated this, though.  Although he didn’t have enough warships to send any out as couriers, there were numerous small freighters within the Phyriseq system, and their captains were very amenable to being hired as couriers.  Each freighter had a copy of the message loaded into their computers, and were sent out across the Alliance.  They broadcast the message in every system they entered and then moved on to the next system.  It would take time, but their message would get out.   

Month 207, Day 16, Alliance Kawasaki System
The D’Bringi contingent from the 3rd Fleet, which had withdrawn from their assignment in the Kure system when they received the initial message from the new Emperor of the restored D’Bringi Empire came to a halt just outside of weapons range of the warp point to the Rehorish home system.  The nine battlecruisers, two heavy cruisers, three strike carriers, and two corvette-carriers were a considerable force, and per standard Alliance protocols they had sent ahead of them their plotted course and ETA, along with a request for authorization to transit the Rehorish home system.  Under Alliance agreements such authorization would normally be automatically granted, more of a formality than anything else.  Things had changed, though, and this had become apparent as the D’Bringi fleet approached the warp point.  Assembled in front of the warp point was the Rehorish Home Fleet, which, although it didn’t have any battlecruisers, was a powerful force as well.  The Rehorish Home Fleet had been somewhat depleted by detachments sent to garrison the Chirq home world and secure the Khozuni system, but it boasted seven light carriers, six heavy cruisers, twelve light cruisers, and eleven destroyers.  The D’Bringi force might possess bigger combatants, but the Rehorish force had more fighters and out-massed the combat ships the D’Bringi could bring to the field. 

In any case, the D’Bringi commander had no interest in fighting.  Instead, he merely restated his desire for his squadron to return to D’Bringi Prime, which necessitated transiting through the Rehorish home system.  The Rehorish fleet responded with a denial of authority for transit, invoking the state of emergency declared by the Rehorish government a week earlier.  After consulting with his legal resources, the D’Bringi commander attempted to negotiate with the Rehorish, arguing that the need of his people outweighed their state of emergency, but the Rehorish were unmoved.  As long as the state of emergency existed, no D’Bringi ships would be allowed to transit their system.  This was a problem for the former 3rd fleet ships, as no other route to their home world existed.  Unable to transit through the Rehorish home system they were stopped cold.  Unwilling to force a confrontation, the D’Bringi commander agreed to wait for a determination to be made at a higher level.   

Month 207, Day 20, Stahat System
A large group of D’Bringi ships jumped into the Stahat system, rendezvousing with the corvette carriers that had arrived several days ago.  This was the D’Bringi contingent from the 6th Fleet which had withdrawn after the announcement of the restoration of the D’Bringi Empire.  After joining with the corvette-carriers, the combined group moved inwards towards the D’Bringi colony in the inner system.  Stahat Prime was the largest D’Bringi out-system colony, and the center of power for the new Empire.  Although the D’Bringi home world held immense political and social value for any government claiming legitimacy, it was here that the plotters had established their initial base of operations, and it was here that the greatest percentage of the planetary population truly supported their cause.  And so, it was here that the new Imperial Fleet would be created.  When the fleet arrived over Stahat Prime in seven days it would be greeted by a planet-wide celebration and joy, which would go a long way towards swaying crews that had had no idea what they were doing or why they left their stations in the Zir Villiers system. 

Unlike the earlier transits of the corvette-carriers, the transit of this fleet was reported through the newly re-established Alliance ICN. 

Month 207, Day 25, Novosibirsk system, Confederated Free States
The Novosibirsk system was a bustling, prosperous system.  It was situated directly between the Colonial Union and the Alliance, and thus it enjoyed the protection of both great nations, and served as a convenient meeting place for the two to discuss important issues.  The system was a hive of activity on many different levels, with traders, spies, and politicians from both nations vying with each other for advantage, with the CFS government constantly walking the thin line of neutrality, trying to help both, but not too much, while simultaneously not letting either get too much of an advantage.  It was a precarious perch, but one that the CFS seemed to excel at, at least so far. 

Former Admiral Ruston, now Special Ambassador Ruston, arrived over the capital planet of Titov early in the morning, and immediately boarded a civilian shuttle for the trip to the surface.  He was accompanied by a large staff provided by the Union Foreign Relations Department, all of whom were busily preparing for the meetings that would be coming.  The shuttle was on approach to the capital city’s main spaceport when an explosion erupted from the side of the transport.  The pilots tried to recover as the shuttle veered to the right, away from the landing area, but then a second explosion shattered the rear of the shuttle and it augured into the ground, tumbling.  Spaceport emergency services were on scene immediately and found both survivors and dead littering the area. 

The Union embassy was in shock.  They didn’t know what Ambassador Ruston’s mission was about, just that it was very important and very urgent.  The Union Ambassador assigned to Titov was a senior official from the Foreign Relations department, as befitting the importance of the station, and she had been miffed that the Department hadn’t seen fit to let her in on the situation.  And now this. 

CFS emergency services were very efficient.  Within fifteen minutes of the crash, they had identified the bulk of the survivors and had begun emergency medical aide.  By the end of the day their tally was complete.  Out of ninety-eight crew and passengers, forty-three had survived the crash.  Including Special Ambassador Ruston.  However, Ambassador Ruston was seriously injured and was in an induced coma as the surgeons reconstructed his savaged body.  Ambassador Tilford, having no idea of Ambassador Ruston’s mission, was limited to sending a report back to the capital with a request for guidance.  Included in the report was the preliminary determination by the CFS Bureau of Security that the shuttle crash was due to sabotage.   

This report, when received in Epsilon Eridani, touched off a furious debate in the Senate.  This debate went on for several days as furious supporters of Senator Semenov accused the New Dawn Party of sabotaging the negotiations with the Alliance.   In the meantime, negotiations remained on hold. 

Month 207, Day 29, Laramie System, Neutral Zone
The Colonial Union’s 1st Battle Fleet was now seventy-two light minutes from the warp point to the Alliance colony system of Dether, which meant it was now entering the danger zone.  The fleet’s scouts hadn’t detected a single Alliance scout throughout the trip, which was consistent with the agreement with the Alliance that established the neutral zone, however, Admiral Carstairs had been unnerved by the lack of enemy scouts given the state of war that now existed between the two states.  In any case, whether or not there had been patrol ships present or not, the Alliance certainly had at least a sensor drone at the warp point to their system, just as the Union had a sensor drone at the warp point that led to their systems.  The fleet had already penetrated the invisible barrier that marked the sensor range of a ship sitting on the warp point.  In a day and a half, they would reach the range that a sensor buoy could detect them at.  If the Alliance hadn’t seen them yet, they would certainly see them then.  Things were about to get very real. 

There was indeed an Alliance picket ship sitting on the warp point to the Dether system, and it did detect the Union fleet approaching its location.  Shortly after detecting the fleet the scout sent a CD back through the warp point to warn its fellow picket ships of the approach of an unknown drive field.  The picket’s commander was not yet alarmed, as it was merely an unexpected drive field contact.  It was anomalous, as it was on an unscheduled course, at an unscheduled time, and it was moving slower than a trade fleet would move.  He would continue to wait and watch, as per SOP. 

The contact report was received in the Dether system and reported back to fleet HQ through the ICN. 

Month 207, Day 30, Alliance
The Alliance ICN was now more or less reliable, as the new D’Bringi Emperor had promised.  The D’Bringi Emperor’s message had spread through the network, and with it spread the network’s reliability had seemingly been restored.  The T’Pau and the Rehorish were unwilling to trust the ICN, but had yet to identify any discrepancies.  Until now. 

On this date the response to the emperor’s message from Skull-Splitter had arrived in the T’Pau home system via a small chartered freighter.  The message electrified the T’Pau high command.  It was proof of the continuing corruption of the ICN, given the disappearance of the original message from the ICN, and of serious divisions within the D’Bringi race.  With the Alliance Grand Council neutralized by the assassination of the D’Bringi representative and the fact that no new representative had been appointed, the T’Pau declared a state of emergency and closed their system to all non-T’Pau warships.  Messages were dispatched to the T’Pau ships assigned to Alliance fleets throughout Alliance territory to remain at their posts, but to verify any orders with T’Pau High Command before enacting any changes to their current SOP. 

Skull-splitter’s message also arrived in the Stahat system, the center of the new D’Bringi Empire’s power.  Unlike in the other systems, here the message was not received well, and the chartered freighter was impounded before it could spread its disinformation.  Thus, Skull-Splitter’s message would not reach the D’Bringi colonies beyond Stahat, at least for now. 
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