View Full Version : Dawn
March 3rd, 2008, 10:17 PM
Hello everyone -
I have just registered as a user on this forum, and I enjoy creating AARs. I'd like to offer my hat into the ring. I have begun a BM game (thank you Mr. Kwok for your fantastic work - and anyone else who helped with the production of the game and mod!) and am currently at 2409.9 in it.
I'll hold off more turns until I get the readers up to where I'm at. A bit of FYI - the empire is called "Colonial Dawn" and is Terran with an overwhelming desire for knowledge. Perhaps not always a good thing...
Anyway, please look for the posts and I hope you enjoy the read.
March 4th, 2008, 03:00 AM
Nekkar IV…homeworld for the Colonial Dawn Empire…
2405.8 (sorry about the wrong year posted in my opening post)
Chairman Lomax rubbed his eyes. He was looking at yet another system report. He smiled. It was late, he was tired, and he was happy.
Well, he was supposed to be happy.
Success brought happiness.
“34 colonies in ten systems” he read aloud. In less than six years. The Dawn’s growth was – indeed – amazing. And he had confirmation of that. The Chethrod race had just sent him the very same message last month. How right they were. And how instrumental they were, although they probably had no knowledge of it. The growth of the empire had coined the phrase, “The rising of the Dawn”. And it was all because of the Chethrod. A seemingly insignificant oversight, in a series of negotiations during that first contact almost two years ago may well have catapulted the Dawn into a position of prominence they may never relinquish.
The Chethrod were encountered by the Dawn in the Sheliak system. The frigate Leeds (or, more correctly, Colonial Dawn Ship Leeds – CDS Leeds) had warped into the system to find two rock worlds that could be colonized. They also encountered the Chethrod. Of note were the 30 fighters that orbited the planet they had colonized. The message from the Leeds also mentioned one more important fact. The Chethrod inhabited gas giant planets.
CDS Southampton, another frigate, joined Leeds on the Sheliak side of the warphole joining Sheliak to the Praxis system. Negotiations were initiated by the Chethrod and they were fairly basic – colonization in each other’s systems, trade, and re-supply between both empires. As a standard response, Dawn made a counter-offer: an observation of non-aggression in neutral systems, but the prohibition of establishing colonies in each other’s systems. The offer was fair, and a logical first step. Lomax knew not to jump at the first offer (it wasn’t good business, after all), and always ask for what you want – only then settling for what you need. The want, in this case, was simple.
Dawn wanted everything. Everything Chethrod had researched. The request, of course, was worded a bit more eloquently, but it was still there: “We require all research – including racially unique research – to ensure our two races can coexist peacefully.”
To the surprise of everyone, the Chethrod agreed.
The science council was ecstatic, to say the least. The big prize, of course, was the secret to establishing colonies on gas giant planets.
And just like that, the Dawn had opened up a treasure trove of locations. No less than ten new worlds were at least medium sized gas giants with oxygen atmospheres. Dawn had, indeed, risen.
Lomax returned to the present and re-read the recommendations of the council heads within the empire. The question was whether or not to allow contact with more races. Doing so might be profitable, but there was always the concern to secure the position of the empire before moving on to a new system. They actually had a system with two planets to colonize they hadn’t even got to yet. The Forlorn system had two planets yet to be colonized. It was secure with only one warp point, and that was to another system – Samora – that only connected to Forlorn and Sirius. Sirius was a Dawn stronghold. Practically speaking, all ten systems were Dawn strongholds since no other empires were in the systems. Lomax decided to keep it that way. Choke points were established in three systems that effectively prevented any contact if so desired.
Another race, the Cue Cappa found that out, when their frigate emerged from a warp point in the Ushphada system, and was greeted with a pair of fourth generation capital ship missiles. A second frigate also met that same fate, before the Cue Cappa initiated negotiations. A treaty was finally signed with the same provisions as the Chethrod treaty – stay out of our systems, and give us your research. They objected, of course, but the Dawn’s position, like their hold on the warp points, was unmovable. The Dawn didn’t need the Cue Cappa. Which reduced the Cue Cappa “empire” to that of mere competition.
And no corporation gives their competition a chance to become equals.
With 89 second-generation research facilities and 39 more scheduled to come online, the capability of the Dawn to develop new technology was staggering. They already had shields, energy stream weapons (lasers), and new kinds of point defense technology that included the laser, small seeking missiles and a very basic but effective version of the old shotgun called the flak cannon. The universities of the empire were also adding to the knowledge base of the scientists here, and fiscal policies were continuing to reduce expenditures, allowing more and better facilities, ships, and units.
It was a dream. New ships were being designed. Mining operations had left the planet surfaces and were now being conducted by company ships in asteroid fields. The Dawn was rising and nothing could stop it.
But Lomax knew that there would be competition. Somewhere, there would be an empire, or perhaps several, that would challenge the Dawn and its lofty technology. Lomax kept that thought foremost as he made his decisions. He knew it would happen. He just didn’t know when…
March 4th, 2008, 07:43 PM
Chazzwazzer Star System…
Onboard the CDS Harvester 004 in asteroid field #3…
James Cabrera watched as the supply transport undocked and departed from his ship. The completion of the supply base on the new gas giant colony in the system meant that his crew could finally go off of their rationing and get back to eating regular meals. Regular, as it were, for a crew whose lives would be spent mostly in space with chunks of destroyed planets and comets as company.
He was in command of a 600kt freighter configured as a radioactive resource harvester. The crew knew her by a less ostentatious title: “double-oh-four”. His ship’s size allowed four of the robotic miners to be carried and still have a decent engine compliment. Other Harvester configurations were available from the design bureau and could be built to make the most profitable use of a particular asteroid field. Asteroids that were high in mineral content would be mined by a “four-double-oh”, while asteroids rich in both radioactive resources and organics – Cabrera winced a bit at visualizing that particular combination – would be mined by a Harvester 022; known simply as a “twenty-two”. His Harvester was one of eight the empire operated, and they were producing over 80,000 units of resources a month.
Cabrera watched as his display console monitored the quantity and purity of the harvested material. Projections put this particular field at 283% of a standard mine output. The projection for this particular ship in this particular asteroid field was over 11000 units of radioactive resources each month. Both he and his crew would be handsomely compensated for their efforts. He did have one concern, and that was the fact that the corporation did not provide protection for the freighters. The standard response to such queries was that protection was unnecessary since no other known empires were in the Dawn systems.
Still, it wouldn’t hurt to explore the possibility enlisting a little “assistance”…
Samora Star System…
Onboard the space yard ship CDS Mexico City
The crew of the ungainly ship fired its engines and began the slow transit from Somora to Pantrissa. There, the ship would begin to upgrade the defenders of the two warp points into non-Dawn space with the latest in upgrades. This was the role she was designed for – allowing the defense ships to remain on post while the planetary space yards concentrated on producing colony ships as fast as possible…
Usphada Star System
Usphada Design and Combat Simulation Center
The rings of Usphada I were beautiful to the observer from space. Even more so that, only two sectors away, her sister Usphada II matched her brilliance with her own set of rings forever in orbit around her.
All of which meant absolutely nothing to the men and women in the darkened room of the design complex. Members of the Navy were also on hand with the researchers as all were about to witness the trial run of a point defense ship design. The classification was given the name Artemis, and she would join the England class frigates and Canada class light cruisers as active ships of the Navy.
Research had been progressing on an effective deterrent to a massed fighter attack by an enemy. The Navy had proven – albeit only three times – that its weapons could outrange anything opposing them, but the lack of an anti-fighter weapon always nagged the senior officers of the Navy. Artemis was to be that answer.
The simulation was set up with the Artemis facing off against a Dawn frigate with two missile launchers. The Artemis continually was able to engage the missiles at range (almost 100 km from the Artemis) and was able to get three shots off within that time needed for the missiles to close.
Then the fighters came in the next simulation. This time, the results were less spectacular. With two shield generators, almost 600kT of armor and a shield regenerator, Artemis was a tough nut to crack; but damage was taken. And this was against the enemy fighters that the Dawn scientists knew about. They were about to cancel the test and stop production when a Navy commander asked to try an idea. He paired the Artemis up with a Canada class light cruiser, but replaced one of the cruiser’s armor sections with a flak cannon. He also quadrupled the number of fighters. When the simulation started, he closed the two ships almost head on into the fighters, but stopped when they were within 200km of the fighters and then turned away from them. He then flew away from the fighters slowly until they came within the Artemis’ flak envelope. Artemis fired, and fighters took damage, but they kept coming. Artemis did not fire a second salvo, however, but leapfrogged in front of the cruiser, which fired her own flak cannon. This pattern repeated until the two ships had destroyed or disabled every fighter with the shields absorbing each hit and having time to regenerate as the ships leapt over each other.
Artemis had proved herself and production was approved…
(Question for the moderators: would screenshots be best posted as attachments?)
March 5th, 2008, 12:59 AM
Haphik warp point...
...onboard CDS Southampton...
The voice was soothing. Feminine. Almost alluring.
Research demonstrated that such a voice was comforting in times of stress.
The operations officer turned her head when she heard the voice. Lieutenant Katherine O’Rourke knew the voice. Somewhere inside her, she wondered why it couldn’t be a strong, comforting male voice, but those thoughts were pushed aside as the soft voice beckoned for attention.
“Warning. Warp point breach imminent. Warp point breach in thirty seconds.”
O’Rourke opened a channel to the Southampton’s sister ship on patrol with her.
“Southampton calling Dover, Lieutenant O’Rourke on duty. Captain on the way. Dover, are you getting this?”
O'Rourke had to make sure the computer wasn't generating a false breach...
...onboard CDS Dover...
“Southampton, Dover…we confirm warp point breach in…twenty seconds…missiles set and...”
The duty officer followed protocol. Haphnik was quarantined – as was all of Dawn space. No one was to get into the area until the corporation was ready for them. That point was about to be made with emphasis.
“Southampton, this is Dover – we have missiles away, repeat missiles away!!”
Then, Dover began to pull away from the warp point. She probably had a longer combat reach than whatever was coming through the point, but there was no sense in sticking around to find out.
...onboard CDS Southampton...
Captain Harrison arrived on the bridge to hear the voice announce what everyone knew would happen.
“Warp point breached.”
Lieutenant O’Rourke filled her captain in:
“Sir, we have an unknown breach of the warp point. Dover has already released missiles and is pulling behind us. We are ready to fire on your orders. Our position is 150km from the point, sir.”
Captain Rodney Harrison took the report in and winced. His initial thought was that some poor Cue Cappa bastard is not going to have a nice day today.
He was wrong...
...onboard the Sergetti frigate Celea...
The Sergetti commander had heard the rumors about the Haphnik warp point. About ships that entered only to be not heard from again. He didn’t believe the stories, but more to the point he was sure his frigate would be able to handle any challenge. He had the second generation of weapons his race had developed. He realized his mistake when, upon entering the system, he found two missiles bearing down on his ship.
The Sergetti point defense fired when the missiles were in range...
...onboard the CDS Southampton...
Lieutenant O'Rourke brought her ship alongside Dover, with about 10,000 meters separating them. Together they pulled away from the intruder...
...onboard the Sergetti frigate Celea...
The point defense did well, knocking out one missile and almost knocking down the second. It was a microsecond too late...
The missile impacted the bow of the Sergetti frigate, and the resulting heat generated burned almost all of the ship’s armor away. The shock to the ship was measurable, and the crew wasn’t able to respond for a few seconds after the explosion...
...onboard the CDS Southampton...
Captain Harrison was the senior commander, and assumed tactical command of both ships. He ordered a second salvo as his little fleet began to pull out of weapons range of the target...
...onboard the Sergetti frigate Celea...
The captain was about to order a pursuit when his own display showed four missiles now closing on the ship, with his targets outdistancing him at a speed he would have found impressive; had not he been contemplating his own death at the moment...
The frigate tried to heel about and run from the new set of missiles, but they had too much residual energy from the warp point jump - although the impact from the first missile hit helped to bleed some of that energy away. The crew had finally recovered and began to turn the frigate when the point defense cannon automatically fired at the first missile...
...onboard the CDS Southampton...
Lieutenant O’Rourke watched the display as the four smaller dots closed with the one larger dot. Suddenly, one of the four smaller dots disappeared. The three remaining dots continued on their way – oblivious to what had just happened or what was about to happen – and they merged with the larger dot. Then, the screen went blank...
The Colonial Dawn had just said hello to the Sergetti Empire. And another race of sentient beings would try to figure out what kinds of creatures would react in this most peculiar way...
...Nekkar Research Center...
It was just one of those days.
The calculations couldn’t be wrong. They were rather simple, and the technician had gone over this very formula many times before.
The problem was how to improve the range of the detector in the combat sensor array used by the ships defending the corporation. Basic modulation techniques were first used, but the power required to generate such signals would be prohibitively large for a space vehicle. Then, low power algorithms were discovered, and the system worked. A simple binary method of coding the transmissions provided a rudimentary sort of identification between transmitter and target. If the target replied with the right binary code pattern, the system recognized the target as friendly.
But today, the technician was working out a way to code the code itself. Or was trying to. And failing. Miserably.
It was just one of those days everyone has. Nothing worked. The technician questioned himself and his abilities. He knew better, but today it just wasn’t working for him.
In a rare show of emotion, he grabbed his formula sheet off of the desk and tore it. And again. And again.
“Feel better?" querried his partner.
The technician looked a bit sheepish as he realized he wasn’t alone. Then, his demeanor changed to fear once he realized he had taken out his frustration out on not his failed computations, but on the monthly report for the Department of Sensor Technology for the Nekkar Research Center.
In a panic he gathered the pieces off of the floor and began to look at each one as if trying to figure out which pieces went where.
His partner was still laughing when he chided him and simply printed out another copy of the report. It was good-natured, and the technician was about to reply with a jest in kind when he froze in his tracks.
He looked back at the pieces of paper on the floor and realized...
“It can’t be...” he breathed…
His partner was curious and looked at the paper scraps on the floor and back at the technician.
The technician looked at his partner and began to smile. Broadly. He knew. He knew!!
It was just one of those days...
March 5th, 2008, 07:31 PM
Colonial Dawn Council Meeting
The meeting was underway, and the council department heads were updating the chairman of the status of each department. The research council led off, and the presentation of the development of the ECM .
“Ladies and gentlemen, the procedure is, in theory, simple…”
Defense interrupted him. “All theories are simple, aren’t they?”
The presenter continued on, undeterred.
“The problem was to improve our ability to interrogate signals and discern their origin. We have devised a way to improve on the procedure.” He picked up a piece of paper and wrote his own name on it.
“And now, ladies and gentlemen…”
He fed the paper into the shredder, and picked up the basket with thousands of small slivers of his document, and others that were shredded.
“Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, I submit to you I can reassemble my original document from this canister of paper shreds. I only need two things. First, I have to know what the original document was – which I do, because I created it – and second…”
The financial officer chimed in.
“Second, you need time. A lot of time.”
The presenter smiled.
“Exactly, madam. Time. I would need about one month; working every second of every day to examine the shreds, sort out my shreds from the rest, and reassemble the document.”
Chairman Lomax asked the next obvious question.
“And you can now do this with interrogation message from these countermeasure pods?”
The presenter looked off to the side for just a second.
“No, Mr. Chairman. We don’t do it to the interrogation message. We can, and have, done it to the code that makes up the interrogation message. Not only does an enemy need to rearrange the letters of the message, they have to reassemble the letters from the shreds the same way I have to reassemble my paper to get to the point where they could then try to reassemble the code.”
Nobody spoke as they tried to visualize what was being said.
Defense tried first.
“You mean you can…”
The presenter cut him off – not normally a good idea, but the presenter was still a bit flush with excitement.
“Yes, Admiral. And it doesn’t take a month, or a day, or an hour. We can reassemble the interrogation code in thirteen-millionths of a second.
The presenter played his final card.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we - in fact – didn’t need more time.”
“We needed a faster clock.”
Dawn now had ECM.
The remaining briefings went on, albeit with less flare than the research announcement. Finance announced it would be able to reduce expenditure requirements for maintenance of the empire’s facilities, ships, and units. Marketing reported the population was solidly behind the chairman and his policy of isolationism. Resources announced there were plenty of materials to continue to build and expand the known areas of Dawn space. They also announced an improvement in their storage facilities. Finally, Defense announced the creation of Operation Loophole. The plan was to take the Velocitas system and hold it as a choke point. Velocatis had warp gates to both the Pantrissa and Haphik systems. Taking the system would reduce the threat to Dawn as any ship or ships no more than 500kT. Of course, with such a small warp point, an enemy would logically need to send in a lot of smaller ships. There was some thought given to leaving Velocitas as a buffer system, but the decision was made to try and clear Velocitas and then block the warp point to whatever was on the other side.
March 5th, 2008, 11:53 PM
Update to board members:
Status report (board members will please note all Harvester resource values are per month)
One oxygen gas giant available for colonization (huge and mild climate. Space yard projected)
One non-oxygen gas giant available for colonization
One non-oxygen rock world available for colonization
Two asteroid fields available
No planets available for colonization
Four asteroid fields available
Samora I: Upgrading from intelligence center 1 to 2. Spaceport online Tripwire satellite on queue
Samora II: Supply depot operational. Construction on space yard begins
Three gas giants available for colonization (one oxygen atmosphere)
Three asteroid fields available
Sirius V: Construction on space yard (huge gas giant with oxygen atmosphere) begins
Two gas giants available for colonization (non-oxygen)
Zanthris II: Producing Canada III class light cruiser (CDS Toronto). Two Pinta gas colony ships scheduled and spaceyard will be decommissioned (small rock with carbon dioxide atmosphere) as Sirius V space yard comes online
Harvester 400 mining 8100+ minerals
Two asteroid fields available
Warp point to Velocitas (guarded)
Warp point to Sheliak (guarded)
Pantrissa V Construction on space yard begins
Pantrissa I construction on two Artemis-class PD ships (CDS Artemis and CDS Longbow) to be complete in 0.5 years. Space yard will be decommissioned as Pantrissa V takes over
Harvester 400 mining 8300+ minerals
Two asteroid fields available
Four planets (two rock and two gsa giant, all non-oxygen) available for colonization
Two gas giants (non-oxygen) available for colonization
Harvester 400 mining 9000+ minerals
Two asteroid fields available
Six planets available for colonization (two oxygen gas giants, two non-oxygen gas giants, two rock non-oxygen)
Harvester 004 mining 11000+ radioactive resources
Two asteroid fields available
Chazzwazzer IV Construction on space yard begins
Warp point to Velocitas (guarded)
Two non-oxygen gas giants available
Haphik VI Construction on space yard begins
Three asteroid fields available
Three gas giant and one rock world available for colonization (all non-oxygen)
Praxis IX Construction on space yard begins
Three asteroid fields available
One non-oxygen gas giant available for colonization
Warp point to Tikikantula (guarded)
Ushphada I producing Artemis (CDS Sniper)
Harvester 202 mining 3000+ minerals and 4000+ radioactive resources
Harvester 400 mining 8200+ minerals
One asteroid field available
Nekkar system (home system)
One rock and one gas giant (non-oxygen) planets available for colonization
Nekkar III building Pinta – ready next month
Nekkar VII Construction on space yard begins
Harvester 400 mining 8000+ minerals
Harvester 040 mining 11000+ organics
End of report
Space yard design report
Canada III upgrade to Canada IV (Lt. Cruiser)
Two level 2 particle beam weapons, one shield, one shield regenerator, level one ECM, one boarding party compliment
Artemis upgrade to Artemis II (PDS Destroyer)
Replace 10kT of armor with level one ECM
End of report
Defense council report
Operation Loophole commences. Frigates Southampton and Dover enter Velocitas from Ushphada while the frigate West End and the light cruiser Montreal enter Velocitas from Pantrissa. Southampton and West End will sweep Velocitas toward third (and unknown) warp point while Monteral and Dover guard their warp points...
Update: Southampton six sectors from the unknown warp point. West End twelve sectors away from the unknown warp point. No contacts reported...
End of report
March 6th, 2008, 12:03 PM
Onboard CDS Southampton...
Captain Harrison brought Southampton 100,000 km from the warp point. It was definitely small, and the readout estimated that only 500kT would be able to pass through it to wherever it happened to lead to. But Southampton, nor her sister ship West End would be entering the warp point. Their mission had been accomplished. Dawn ships now patrolled all three warp points of the Velocitas system, and the empire had reduced its choke points into Dawn space from four to three.
Harrison knew his crew would be due for a rotation planetside somewhere. He also knew Southampton was due for an upgrade. All of the frigates on this mission, as a matter of fact, would need to be upgraded soon.
Empire Objective Report – Space Yard Construction
The ability to build ships is vital to the success of the empire and its citizens. We have instituted a policy of building and upgrading space yard facilities on oxygen worlds of at least “large” size classification. Other planets in a particular system will support these space yard planets with non-production facilities such as medical labs, research laboratories, intelligence centers, storage facilities, and so forth. We have seven planets in six systems identified as current or future construction yards within corporate territory (Nekkar will have two such yards). The only current exception is the yard at Ushphada I. The location of a warp point to non-corporate space and no oxygen worlds in the system mandate the exception be made. Our staff anticipates we will meet this objective in 0.4 years.
End of Report
Empire Objective Report – System Support
Construction is enhanced with more population who are satisfied and happy. Planets not designated as construction yards will provide system-wide support facilities for those that are. Currently, construction of medical labs is in progress in the following systems: Samora, Sirius, Praxis and Nekkar. Other system-wide support functions will be integrated within the empire as they are discovered.
End of report
March 6th, 2008, 04:32 PM
Velocitas warp point
...onboard CDS Southampton...
Lieutenant O’Rourke was gone. Transferred, in fact. She was also promoted and now in command of the CDS West End. The captain there had been shuttled to the Montreal because of an illness that could not be diagnosed on board the frigate. Montreal had returned to Pantrissa to upgrade and give her crew some shore leave. Dover, the frigate that entered Velocitas from Haphnik with Southampton was also en route to the Pantrissa warp point and would leave for rest and refit in Pantrissa as well. West End would be next, and Southampton, the most experienced crew and ship, would upgrade last.
When Captain Harrison delivered the news that they would be last to refit, his crew wasn’t thrilled, but they weren’t overly concerned. They knew their turn would come. The crew was buoyed by the news from Pantrissa that the first Artemis point defense ship was commissioned and would be joining them within a few months. The crew gathered and watched the video on the new class of ships, and also watched the replay from the Ushphada combat simulations. A few whistles were heard as the ship repeatedly beat back fighters and missiles. A short presentation on the latest upgrade of the Canada class light cruisers was also available, including the basic operation of the shield regenerators.
Afterwards, Captain Harrison answered a few questions about the upgrades. The questions were professional, and to the point. One crewman asked about whether the frigates would refit with the shield as well. Captain Harrison said that he didn’t see any need for them, since his new operations officer, Lieutenant Conway – he glanced over at him as he answered – had assured him that Southampton would not get hit.
Laughter rippled throughout the crowd, and Captain Harrison continued:
“Our job on Southampton is to strike first, hard, and fast. Ladies and gentlemen, if there is one thing I am most certainly not interested in, it is a ‘fair fight’. Speed and firepower are our shields. Ladies and gentlemen, we are the standards that others are judged by. Remember that I am proud to serve with each of you.”
Everyone stood just a bit straighter at that. Their speed trials were still the fastest in the fleet – and they had two combat victories already in their log. They knew they had met the challenge. They knew they would continue to do so.
“Now then, let’s show West End and her new captain how a combat simulation should be run!”
Cheering filled the little briefing room, as the crew filed out. Later that day, Southampton faced off against West End in a simulation designed to sharpen each crew’s combat skills. Predictably, the two ships were evenly matched, until West End didn’t turn quickly enough and one of Southampton’s missiles outran her as she tried to open the range. West End’s speed was reduced by forty percent. Captain O’Rourke congratulated her former Captain and signed off.
Lieutenant Conway made the observation that he was glad he wasn’t onboard West End today.
Captain Harrison knew Katherine would drill and re-drill with her new crew. He also knew he was glad she was on his side. He was about to say something else when he was summoned to the bridge.
Signals officer Ensign Sloan spoke to the captain and the operations officer when they came to his station.
“Sir, I’m reading signals from the warp point itself. The computer is working on them, but I’d say they are communication signals. Not necessarily directed at us, but we’re getting them anyway. No way to know when they were sent, I’m afraid.”
Harrison and O’Rourke looked at each other. As if reading their minds, Sloan spoke up.
“Yes sir, our signals probably also went through the warp point.”
Whatever or whoever was on the other side of that warp point knew someone else was on this side of it as well.
March 7th, 2008, 01:12 AM
Hello everyone - before the entry for today, thanks to all who have been viewing. Although I've started a few games (What, my home system doesn't have 3 huge rock worlds with oxygen atmosphere??? Restart!!), I'm not all that familar with the game beyond a couple of years, or the BM and its changes. Please forgive me if something seems totally out of place.
Now with that out of the way, please enjoy today's entry.
...onboard colony ship Pinta...
The operations officer watched the display, and announced,
“Approaching intercept vector.”
The captain of the giant ship acknowledged and keyed in the sequence to fire the orbital rockets.
In two hours, the colony ship was nearing the end of its three-month journey. The landing site (although the term “landing” on a gas giant was a bit counterintuitive) was already coded into the navigation system, and the remaining part of the sequence was largely automatic, although the human pilots on board could override the system in case of a malfunction.
The system, of course, worked perfectly. The ship was “landed” – or rather had established a permanent docking facility. It would form the base from which the planet structures would be formed. It was rather like building in the sky, but the buildings would be on raised pads. The pads themselves were equipped with anti-gravity thrusters. That was the secret of colonizing a gas giant. You never touched down.
The commander opened the airlock door and fresh air flooded throughout the ship. Colonists and crew alike felt invigorated and began to build another element of the Empire.
Ushphada I space yard facility...
With the mooring lines secured, Leeds shut her engines down. The yard supervisor was already on board, “suggesting” to the captain the order of upgrades. There were a few changes to the England design. First, the ship would get a flak cannon. While the Artemis was still the main point defense ship of the fleet, she wasn’t to be the only point defense of the fleet. Second, the armor was to be upgraded – new material alloys allowed for a 10% increase in the protection it offered. Third, an ECM pod was being installed, and the signals officers and operators were to report to the secure meeting room for 5 days for orientation training on the new system. Leeds would be the first of the frigates to be upgraded to the England VI frigate.
Meanwhile, taking her place guarding the warp point to Tilikathua was Sniper, the new point defense destroyer. Northampton was also at Ushphada and was also going through a rest and refit, along with an upgrade to an England VI class.
Tilikanthua warp point
...onboard CDS Sniper...
“With all due respect, minister – are you sure this is a wise move?”
The captain could politely ask, but that was about all he could do. His orders, unsealed earlier today, were very specific. Minister Talbot was now in total command of the ship. The captain reread the orders, cursed, and punched in his command code. The response was simple and unnerving.
“I’m sorry captain, your code no longer functions.”
That was earlier today. Now, the captain was a helpless bystander on his own ship. At least he could still be on the bridge. How gracious of the Minister. He repeated his question.
“Minister? Are you sure this a good idea? Sending Leeds and Northampton back for upgrade at the same time?”
The minister was watching the ship’s main display panel intently. His voice carried just a touch of annoyance in his reply.
“Captain, your orders? I’m sure you’ve read them?”
At this point, the crewmembers on the bridge looked up at the two of them for a bit before returning to their duties.
“I know minister, you are in command now. Why – I don’t know. But the Navy seems to approve.”
The minister was still loking at the display panel. He didn’t acknowledge the captain.
“Minister, I will fully support you, but the safety of my crew is of utmost…”
The minister answered, but was clearly annoyed at the interruption. His eyes never left the ship’s display panel. He watched the time tick away.
“Yes, yes, Captain. I can assure you that …ahhhhh!! … just… about…now…”
The warp point seemed to shimmer for just a second…
“Warning. Warp point breach iminent. Warp point breach in thirty seconds.”
This was too much for the captain.
“Minister! Sir – the warp point…”
The soothing voice returned.
“Warp point breach in fifteen seconds.”
The captain continued.
“Minister, we can still leave the warp point. We can recall Leeds and Northampton. They can’t get here right away, but they can at least get here to try and close the point again.”
The minister finally turned and stared at the captain. His head titled just a bit when he spoke.
“Leave? Why would we want to leave?”
Once again, the soft voice made herself known.
“Warp point breached.”
The captain was about to answer when he noticed the display over the minister’s shoulder. A ship was emerging from the warp point. It was a Cue Cappa frigate. The captain pointed to the display and made what he thought was a convincing argument to leave.
“Sir – a Cue Cappa frigate. And we have no weapons, Minister!”
The minister glanced over his shoulder and looked back at the captain.
March 7th, 2008, 10:41 PM
Colonial Dawn Homeworld
Hermes Medical Laboratory...
The applause was thunderous. Chairman Lomax had just finished a dedication speech on the opening of the Hermes Medical Laboratory. Throughout the Nekkar system, branches of the medical facility were opening or had already opened. The Chairman spoke of the efforts and dedicated sacrifices made by the workers in the structure’s construction, and about how lives would be saved and enriched with the wondrous works that were sure to come from the staff of the facilities.
The dedication was transmitted in real time to almost every display unit in the system. People throughout the system were happy, almost jubilant with the success of their empire and those they entrusted to lead it.
The Chairman held up his hands, and the applause died down. He continued his speech.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I have one more announcement if you would bear with me a moment further. The efforts of the military”, here the applause broke over the Chairman’s speech again (the video display of the “defense of Tilikanthua” - as it was known – was shown a mere half hour before the Chairman’s speech. Strangely, though, the invaders had three ships instead of one while the valiant defenders saved the day), and he paused a moment while the masses had their moment. He again raised his hands.
“The efforts of our military at keeping us secure while we prosper cannot be overlooked. The efforts of our diplomatic community in negotiating treaties with alien races for the betterment of all cannot be overlooked.”
Again, the applause. Again, a gesture from the Chairman as he finished his delivery.
“Citizens of Dawn, I tell you now the time has come for us to join in brotherhood with our neighbors. The time has come for us to share with others the bounty we enjoy. The time has come for Dawn to be welcomed, not feared. We have offered a new treaty with the Cue Cappa. We offer to come to their aid should they be attacked. We want them to see our superiority not as a threat, but as a shield under which all of the peace-loving races of the galaxy can benefit from. We ask for nothing in return, save the opportunity to demonstrate our goodwill. Citizens, the Dawn is rising on a new day!”
The applause was, impossibly, even louder than before. Tensions seemed to ease, and traders looked forward to selling new – if alien – merchandise for a not inconsequential profit.
The Chairman was escorted to his vehicle. Inside, his aide handed the Chairman a display pad. He was reviewing the projections for the next month’s resources, when the Director of the Intelligence section interrupted him.
“Mr. Chairman, I have a message from Ushphada.”
Avery Smith had a voice that was as smooth as ice. And just as cold.
“Yes Mr. Smith. Did we make contact?”
Smith never really liked the Chairman. Like all ambitious people, Smith’s lust for power was only eclipsed by his plans for its use.
“Yes, Mr. Chairman. Minister Talbot has control of Sniper, and reports that the frigate Chriedeld-er has penetrated the Tilikanthua warp point. Leeds and Northampton are in dock on Ushphada I for refit. Minister Talbot has established contact with the Cue Cappa representative. We have secured an increase in resources from them for their entry into the system. They are as interested in improving relations as we are.”
The Chairman thought for a second.
“I’m not too sure about this, Avery. The timing. With Leeds and Northampton in dock. Sniper has no offensive capability”
The Chairman was unaware that those words had been spoken days earlier in a system far away.
“I agree, Mr. Chairman,” Smith assured. “But the Cue Cappa petitioned for assistance in their war with an alien race called the Xi’Chung Hive. Minister Talbot is our representative for Ushphada, and he agreed to the meeting, albeit on short notice. Northampton and Leeds can be recalled if necessary, and the Cappa have agreed that there would be only one ship entering the system.”
The Chairman seemed satisfied, and went back to looking at his reports.
“Very well Avery, keep me informed.”
Avery Smith took his cue.
“Of course, Mr. Chairman.”
When the vehicle stopped, the Chairman and his entourage left Smith alone. Smith walked back to his office and punched in his code to his personal communication system (PCS). His encryption was even better than that now in use by the military’s ships. He sent a message to a building on Ushphada III.
The message was transmitted to a communications satellite orbiting the planet, which then sent the message to a satellite near the warp point to Praxis. The message was transmitted into the warp point, and a satellite on the Praxis side of the point transmitted it to the Ushphada warp point, where a satellite there repeated the process. By the time it got to its destination, three minutes had passed.
Ushphada III research complex
Test and evaluation chamber #2...
The technician was about to print the results when his PCS activated. He had no problem reading the message, since his PCS was standard issue from the Dawn intelligence department. The small display panel showed a single word.
The technician/intelligence officer keyed back a response.
Tilikanthuia warp point
...onboard CDS Sniper...
The minister hailed Sniper. He had left the ship in a shuttle and was taken to the Cue Cappa ship. He was now onboard there as the ship was heading into the Ushphada system. The captain made no pretense about his relief at having him off of his ship. He had his command codes back, and was patrolling the warp point again – not that there was much he could do about it if it was breached again. He was here to protect the two ships whose job it was to challenge intruders. And those two ships were now being refit on the other side of the system! The good news was that Leeds’ refit was completed, and she would rejoin Sniper next month. Northampton would follow soon thereafter. No thanks to the minister who was now hailing Sniper from an alien ship.
“Captain, I do apologize for the clandestine nature of my time aboard your vessel. Please understand that my mission is to secure a better treaty with the Cue Cappa. I trust you understand the sensitive nature of the mission, and hope you can see the greater good within our efforts.”
The captain admitted the minister was a good talker. ‘Our efforts’ he said. Right. The minister continued.
“I’m sure you have full control of the Sniper again?”
“Yes minister, all except the communications systems. They aren’t responding to the code.”
The minister looked apologetic. The captain thought the minister could look any way he wanted to on demand.
“I am truly sorry, captain, but you will have control of the communication system in one hour. We are broadcasting a friendship message from the Chriedeld-er and any transmission beyond short range ship to ship would interfere with, and possibly cause a misinterpretation of, the message.”
The captain sat down and fumed, but there wasn’t much more he could do. He had to wait another 35 minutes. He used the time to run a complete systems check on the ship. He considered it fumigating...
Praxix II shipyard construction facility...
The facility was dark. Ship construction operations were suspended with the last Pinta that departed last month. The facility on Praxis IX was about ready to begin construction. First off would be Harvesters, and then probably would be military ships to build. The workers at the Praxis II facility had relocated to Praxis IX, and were given priority in living sites and assistance in making the transition as smooth as possible. Everyone was looking forward to working without the need for a dome, and hopes were high. A research center would be replacing the old shipyard facility. News crews were already reporting on the event, as the shipyard officials predicted great events for the new facility. Workers were interviewed about the upheaval of moving to a new planet, but they were all in favor of it. After all, who wanted to live in a bubble if you didn’t have to?
The news reports switched to the destruction of the old facility and the construction of the new research lab. Rumors were of a new and improved version of the space yards, so there wouldn’t be very much to try and salvage from this yard. The reporter read over the history of the yard on Praxis II, about how it had been a valuable addition in the early days of the empire.
It was to play one more valuable role...
March 8th, 2008, 01:26 PM
Praxis II shipyard construction facility...
The news reporter was arriving at the site. He wanted to be early enough to get some background material to go with the live interviews from the past few weeks. He also wanted to incorporate the fact about how the empire’s newest construction facility on Praxis IX would be producing the empire’s newest ship, the Bulldog class cruiser. He was going over his notes, while the camera crew was setting up. It was still early, but to get the best shot, you had to get the best spot. The agenda had a short de-commissioning speech (at least he hoped it would be short) to be followed by the implosion of the building. He had seen videos of the technique, and was now going to see one for himself. And the rest of the empire would see it live. Courtesy of Skip Thomas – staff reporter.
He was looking the wrong way. The camera was looking the wrong way as well, getting shots of people just starting to arrive for the day’s events. More people who wanted to get to the site early. They were, in fact, right on time.
The explosion was wrong. That’s what the conclusion of the demolition experts would be. It certainly wasn’t an implosion. The high explosive blast incinerated the building, and everything – and everyone – within a kilometer of the site. There would be no empire-wide video, but there was a huge crater in the ground. And 34 of the empire’s citizens were dead.
Ushphada asteroid belt III
Onboard the Cue Cappa frigate Chriedeld-er...
Minister Talbot was making progress. At least he thought he was. He was showing his hosts the operation of the Empire’s Harvester mining the rocks for radioactive resources. The minister was apologetic that he couldn’t get the ship closer, but there was a real danger here from the asteroids themselves, as well as the immense bulk of the Harvester. The helmsman of the frigate had skill, however, and they were well clear of the large rocks. Small rocks were abundant, but they posed no threat to the craft.
The minister and his host had retired to an antechamber when the minister was informed that the latest offer of assistance by the empire had been turned down. Politely, but turned down just the same.
His host looked suitably apologetic.
A weird light began to flash inside the frigate. The host looked at the light, and then at the minister. The minister looked back at his host, curious about this latest demonstration.
Ushphada asteroid belt III
Fighter wing Spider Alpha...
Chosen for his intelligence and allegiance, Lieutenant Geoff Klyber was well aware of the threats posed by those outside the empire who would stop at nothing to take what the citizens of Dawn had created. His mission, covert, of course; was to eliminate the traitor to the empire who was now trying to hide in an asteroid field with his new “friends”. Klyber had heard the talk back at the base about how people were thinking that the empire’s position of isolationism was unfair, and wished that contact could be made and the races of the galaxy could live in peace. It was the same nonsense the Chairman had spoke of during his speech. Klyber knew that the technology the empire possessed was formidable – there was quite a bit the public didn’t know about (like the existence of the Spider program, for one) – and in the wrong hands billions of lives, both human and alien, would be lost.
He was going to prevent that. He was actually going to save lives with this mission. His squadron only knew that they were on a checkout flight to certify the Spider for general production. The freighters would be happy to hear their calls for protection would be answered, although they had to acknowledge there was nothing to protect them from.
Klyber knew the Cue Cappa frigate was in the belt. He had received his briefing that the frigate – with the traitor – was trying to scan the freighter and learn the secret to asteroid mining. They may have already had the information and on their way back. They had to be stopped. He waited for the right moment.
“Spider seven to Spider one…boss, you there?”
”Seven, this is one, go ahead.”
”Spider One, I’m getting the signature of a Cue Cappa frigate, 250,000km into the field, on a direct vector to the Harvester.”
“One, this is four, I’m getting it as well.”
“Spider One to Spider alpha, all fighters close up. Let’s see what..."
Klyber’s instructions were cut off by an animated voice coming through the speaker.
“Any ship please respond! This is Harvester 400 under attack. Repeat we are under attack by an unknown ship. Armor failing, please assist!”
Klyber turned on the fighter’s command channel. Doing so meant he would speak to the fighters directly, but nobody else.
“Harvester 400 this is Spider One. Standby, sir, we are 200,000km away and closing on you. Say again your status, over.”
Spider pushed the PLAY button.
“Spider who?? Spider whoever, we are under attack and armor is down to 64%. We have no weapons. We are a mining ship and under attack. Please assist!”
Klyber finished the charade.
“Standby Harvester, we’re on the way. Hold on buddy.”
...onboard Harvester 400...
The captain of the freighter was unaccustomed to having company in “his” asteroid belt. The Cue Cappa frigate was bad enough, but to show up and hail the freighter less than one week after a misstep caused the big ship to have a too close encounter with one of the rocks that surrounded them. Now his ship was getting some weird readings almost 200,000km out, towards where the frigate was heading…
...onboard Spider One...
Klyber had ten fighters in his wing. They formed up and pushed their throttles as far forward as they would go. They had the frigate, in range, and nervous chatter filled the speakers.
Klyber formed the ten fighters in a wedge, and headed toward the frigate. The frigate had turned to meet the threat, and was headed right toward them. The ship and the fighters closed on each other at a rate of 30km per second. The fighters had smaller versions of the anti-proton beams that the ships carried. In eight seconds, they would be put to the test.
...onboard the frigate Chriedeld-er...
The minister was sure there was some kind of mistake. He was looking at the display for the frigate and watching the very small dots close on his ship. He pondered that thought for a moment, “his ship”. His host broke through his thoughts.
“They are your fighters, Minister. They attack us. You talk and they attack!”
The minister could feel it all spinning out of control.
“Let me contact them! Let me tell them...” His host cut him off.
“The time for talk is over.” He nodded to the soldier who was escorting them.
The minister fell dead to the floor with a strange wound at the base of his skull.
...onboard Spider one...
The fighters and frigate closed on each other. The fighters held formation. The frigate had the longer range, and fired two of it’s cannons at the first fighter that entered inside of that range.
“Spider two, taking fire. Evading.”
Klyber shivered as he was getting his wish. He was defending the empire.
“Spider One to Spider alpha – now, while he is reloading! Attack!”
Spider two banked hard right and tried to evade the two cannon shots. The remaining nine fighters charged the frigate.
“One, this is two, I’ve been hit. Weapons gone, engines at half power.”
Klyber felt a twinge of fear, but pressed on.
“Spider three taking fire.”
Klyber jerked at that. “So fast?”
“Spider three, I’ve been hit, but my armor’s holding…”
Klyber finally was in range and fired. His beam hit the frigate and started burning it’s armor.
“Spider four, taking fire…”
Klyber was now caught up in the action. The frigate began to turn away from the fighters.
“Spider alpha, come left heading 203. Stay in front of it, that’s where the weapons are!”
“Spider four, he missed me. Firing.”
“Spider five, firing.”
“Spider One! Boss he’s fired his main weapons at you! Get out of there!”
“Spider four, hit, armor is holding.”
Klyber saw the weapons fire and cut his thrusters in an attempt to let the shot slide by. It didn’t work, and Lieutenant Geoff Klyber became the first combat casualty of the empire, without the empire even knowing it.
The rest of the battle went similarly wrong, as the frigate proved to be a more capable opponent than was thought. But with the last of the fighters destroyed, the frigate’s victory was short-lived. Herself battered and her armor gone, she was unable to avoid the asteroids long enough to escape back to her own space.
The battle in Ushphada asteroid belt III was over, and everyone was a loser.
Usphada III research complex...
With the failure of the Spider program, all data and records were subsequently erased. The cover story fed to the media was that Minister Talbot had lost his life, along with the lives of the Cue Cappa frigate, to mercenary fighters who tried to pirate the ship. This matched up with the report from the Harvester 400 in the belt.
The explosion at Praxis II was deemed an accident, and the intelligence director, who so casually toyed with the lives of others, slipped back into the shadows, to bide his time.
March 8th, 2008, 03:38 PM
Thought I'd post the map of my game to this point. I tried to attach a file, but it didn't work too well. Can I post pictures in this forum?
March 8th, 2008, 05:50 PM
First attach your picture to the post. Then edit the post and copy the attached picture's link into the UBB image code to display the picture.
March 8th, 2008, 06:56 PM
I went to the FAQ, and apparently I need a website to link to - and that I don't have. Anyhow, thanks for the info.
March 8th, 2008, 07:58 PM
The incidents of last month were quickly moved past. Chairman Lomax sent a message to the Cue Cappa Regent expressing his sadness at the loss of their frigate in Dawn space to mercenaries, and wished that the memory of all who were lost could serve as a bridge to building a brighter future.
He received no response.
As with the funerals for those lost on Praxis II when the shipyard that was being decommissioned suddenly exploded. The official cause was faulty demolition charges –the report was quick to point out the placement of the charges was within the established parameters – and the grieving took place.
The reports were presented…
Construction/Homeland department report:
The building of medical labs in Praxis, Sirius, and Samora was complete. The citizens in those systems would begin to enjoy a higher standard of living. Additionally, climate control facilities will be built at those space yard planets with less than optimal conditions and high migration. Finally, Samora II begins upgrading to a space yard 2.
End of Report
Research department report:
The research department announces the following technology upgrades: Ship weapon mounts level 2, ship capture level 2, space yard level 2. They also announce the delivery of technology from the Cue Cappa in accordance with our treaty. We now have second-generation orbital bases that can be built.
End of report
Defense department report
CDS Mexico City and Empire returning to space yards and will be refit as Australia class repair ships. The build time for space yard ships is too high.
CDS Montreal and Toronto refit at Pantrissa I as Canada VI light cruisers.CDS Dover and Longbow join CDSYork at the Pantrissa/Sheliak warp point.
Each of the three possible entry points to the Dawn empire is guarded by two frigates and a PDS ship. As noted above, Dover and York are joined by the PDS destroyer Longbow at the Pantrissa - Sheliak warp point. Northampton and Leeds are joined by the PDS destroyer Sniper at the Ushphada – Tilikanthua warp point. The unknown warp point in Velocitas is guarded by Southampton and West End, along with the PDS destroyer Artemis. The light cruiser Montreal will join the defenders at Sheliak, while Toronto will join the defenders at the unknown warp point.
We will be penetrating the unknown warp point once Toronto arrives.
End of report
Avery Smith delivered the report on the tragedy at Praxis II. He failed to mention that two security violations led to the dissemination of Dawn information to other empires…
March 9th, 2008, 03:02 AM
Pantrissa II space yard
onboard CDS Toronto
Security officer Walter Sen was briefing the newly formed security sections that would serve on capital ships to deny boarding as well as attempt to board ships disabled by the ship’s weaponry. There were twenty well-trained specialists, and they were expected to be able to overcome ten times their number. Of course, it wouldn’t be a straight up fight. It was expected that the ship they try to board would have causalities and generally not in a position to offer up much of a defense. Still, they were professionals, and the short layover at the yard would give them a bit more training. Today, they were learning how to blast through an armor plated hull with shaped charges. Their target was the Mexico City, here for an almost complete refit into a different class of ship. The Mexico City would need to be stripped down anyway, so it was a perfect opportunity to get a little live fire experience.
When they were finished, the hull was breached in less than a minute, and the boarders had moved to the bridge within three.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t time to repeat the exercise, as the workers needed to get to the refit of the old vessel, and the Toronto’s visit to the yard would be disappointingly brief.
Design department briefing room
The engineers were finishing their report to their director, who would have it delivered to the Chairman for inclusion in the monthly update. Somewhere amid the amount of resources available, the plans for the Navy, and the machinations of the intelligence bureau, the Chairman would learn that mines were now available to help close off the entry points into Dawn space. Mine layers and sweepers were also proposed. There had already been consultations with Defense, and the addition of the mines would allow exploration of the points outside Dawn space while adding a measure of security that their empire wouldn’t be penetrated.
March 9th, 2008, 02:55 PM
Monthly empire status report
The presenter led off with very good news. Five more planets were colonized last month. Three more research colonies and two resource storage colonies. The number of planets left to colonize was shrinking. The space yards would stand down as soon as they could and upgrade. Climate control facilities were under construction at the planets where ship construction was taking place.
The research department announced the discovery of high-energy weapons, phased weapons and scanner technology. The Cue Cappa had sent their research on supply as per the treaty they were still honoring. Education in the system was improving, and younger and younger students were accessing the research networks. During the day, these students were submitting ideas – no matter how unrealistic they may have seemed. Later, their computers were used by the research labs on the planets to run equations, models, and tests. It was a geometric progression of staggering proportions. The more people who had networked computers, the more processing power the labs had access to. And the more power they had, the faster they made discoveries. Which led to more networked computers. And more processing power. And so on. And so on. What it amounted to was that the Dawn empire had entire planet populations dedicated to the discovery of new technologies. And it was paying off.
The briefing continued. Avery Smith began his report about the capture of spies within the design bureau. Chairman Lomax interrupted him.
“I’m sorry, Avery; but I have a pressing matter that I need to deal with. Guard, would you ask Miss Edwards to come in?”
Avery looked annoyed and then bored when Rita Edwards was escorted into the briefing room. Strikingly beautiful, she sat down without saying a word.
“Mr. Chairman, I realize I wasn’t here last month, but Miss Edwards did submit the report for me. As my assistant,”
Lomax interrupted again.
“And your lover.”
Smith fumed at that.
“Mr. Chairman, you have..”
”Mr. Smith, you do understand the rules regarding fraternization, do you not?”
Smith could hardly believe this.
“Fraternization??!?? Are you serious??”
“I’m afraid so, Mr. Smith. I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask for your resignation, and Miss Edwards’ as well.”
Rita Edwards handed an envelope to the guard. The other guard moved in behind Avery.
Smith was still incredulous.
“Mr. Chairman, I will not submit a letter of resignation. You do not...”
Lomax continued with an even voice.
“Avery, I know about Spider. We have the technician from Ushphada III. We have the directed beam transmission back and forth to your PCS from the satellite logs. I know the Cue Cappa frigate wasn’t destroyed by mercenaries, but by fighters. Dawn fighters. Citizens of Dawn killed, Avery, and were killed on your orders, Avery. There were no mercenaries.”
Avery wasn’t backing down.
“Chairman, if you don’t agree with the conclusion of my report, fine. Perhaps it was dissidents within the empire that...”
And just like that, it was over.
“Your report, Avery? Don’t you mean the department report? No matter, but you are right about dissidents.”
Lomax just stared at Smith, who didn’t move. The other board members were quiet as well, not knowing exactly what was happening, only that they were glad to be spectators, and not participants.
“You almost started a war, Avery – and for what? The Cue Cappa weren’t a threat, so the only threat to you would be me. But your own machinations led you astray again, Mr. Smith. I have nothing against you, so you objected to my policies. You didn’t want peace, did you? You wanted us to conquer, and for nothing more than your own lust for power.”
Again, Smith said nothing.
“No matter”, Lomax concluded. “As I said, we have your operative from the lab on Ushphada III. Or rather we had. I understand he participated in the high-energy weapon test. As for you, however, we have a new mineral storage planet that is in need of workers. Avery, I wish you well in your new endeavor. Miss Edwards?”
Rita Edwards stood and moved around the table, and sat in Avery’s old chair. This was too much for Smith.
“But she resigned as well!!”
Lomax cleared the point for Avery.
“Yes, Avery, she is no longer the ‘Assistant’ to the Director of Intelligence Operations.”
On their way down the stairs towards the door, the guard withdrew a weapon from his pocket, and Avery Smith was no more.
March 10th, 2008, 12:54 AM
Pantrissa space yard...
Toronto was finally out of the system, the Pinta had just launched today with another load of eager colonists, and yard personnel enjoyed a short-lived respite. Alice Springs, an Australia class repair ship, was still undergoing refit, and there were two more ships to be built before the yard would be decommissioned. The new yard at Pantrissa V was already in operation. The workers on Pantrissa II would move to the new planet, with its oxygen atmosphere and abundant space. There was even talk of a new climate control facility being built. All in all, it would be heaven.
Ed Jefferies was a welder who was coming off of a double shift. The yard was operating at emergency capacity, and the plan was to squeeze every drop out of the yard and her men before the shut down occurred.
Right now, Jefferies was squeezing the last drop out of his drink at a local bar and “entertainment” establishment. After a suitable amount of libation and a fist full of overtime-augmented cash, he was pouring out his soul to a “friend” who held the promise of a night of pleasure. For her part, the woman had seemed genuine enough – and she was – and listened intently while Jefferies continued on with his alcohol-induced soliloquy. When he eventually passed out she helped himself to the remainder of his cash and headed downstairs to share the gains with the bartender, as she had done before.
But tonight, it wasn’t to be.
“That’s right, miss. Keep coming. Right down here.”
The bartender was surrounded by two intelligence agents. The new director – a female, she remembered hearing on the news – was moving quickly. A third agent approached her, and she froze in place.
“Okay, miss – hand it over.”
She didn’t make a move.
“The wallet, lady. We’re getting a bit tired of citizens who so blatantly prey on the efforts of others.”
The lady started to protest – she knew she had to protest – and the agent grabbed her arm, reached into her dress and pulled the stolen wallet out. He released her and she turned to run, but not without cursing them before ducking out the door and heading home.
She walked fast and glanced over her shoulder, but the agents were more interested in the bartender. She made her way home and shut the door. Then she began to tremble, realizing how close it was. In a moment, she gathered herself and opened a jewelry box. She withdrew a talisman and laid it respectfully on top of the table. She knelt and began to pray. Her words were exact, her passion in her words considerable, and - after a short while - the talisman began to glow.
With a hushed voice, she spoke into the talisman. To any observer it looked like prayers, but she was repeating the destinations of the ships that had left the yard, the current assigned work of the yard, and the plans for closing it.
The planetary governor was hoping this would work. As a matter of fact, he was counting on it working. It would be his job if it didn’t. Nobody had actually threatened him, but what good is a governor who cannot take care of his people?
So he cut the ceremonial ribbon, made the perfunctory speeches, and officially opened the first climate control facility of the Empire.
Velocitas warp point
...onboard CDS Southampton...
The orders were received and on the same computer. Captain Harrison read them, and was about to open a channel to West End when Captain O’Rourke hailed Southampton and the two commanders met on a secure channel. They worked out a new plan for penetrating the warp point. At the last minute, the Navy agreed that Toronto and Artemis would remain outside of the warp point, while the two frigates would enter and explore the unknown space ahead of them.
Monthly status report
Education is now at level 6, and level 3 research is being studied. We should have it in two months.
Three more colonies established. One each in Nekkar, Pantrissa, and Ushphada.
Current conditions on Praxis IX are “unpleasant”, with a birth rate of 12% and a migration of 6%. There was an increase of 2 million inhabitants on the planet last month. We’ll keep monitoring it.
(author’s note: I’ve decided to change the format, and still work storylines into the game, but the reports would be made to the reader, to give you some sense of the game play itself. Back to work tomorrow, look for the next installment on Tuesday.)
March 11th, 2008, 08:16 AM
...onboard CDS Southampton...
The captains of the four vessels at the warp point that led to points unknown were ready to go through it. There was a very real fear of mines on the other side of the point, but the decision was made. Southampton and West End would lead, and Toronto and Artemis would follow. Captain Harrison was happy to have Toronto’s firepower to count on, especially since her weapons didn’t require ammunition and couldn’t run out. Supplies were a concern, of course, but they always were. The Empire had to expand. Fewer and fewer colonizable planets were left. It was time to move out into unexplored space.
...onboard CDS Southampton...
The warp was uneventful, and they didn’t materialize in the middle of a minefield – which was always a good thing. Immediately after completing the warp, the ships’ powerful sensor arrays went to work and painted a picture of planets, asteroids, a star, and at least two other empire colonies.
Harrison immediately went to an alert status, as did Captain O’Rourke on West End. What they saw was a Phong colony on a tiny rock world, and a pair of Sergetti colonies on ice worlds. The Phong colony didn’t have any ships in orbit, but the Sergetti had fighters orbiting their worlds. There was a small asteroid field, as well as an empty gas giant planet with methane atmosphere. As Toronto and Artemis warped into the system, Harrison ordered the sensor data linked to them. Harrison knew the Sergetti empire had, at best, a reason to distrust them, and – at worst – a score to settle. His thoughts were interrupted by his sensor officer.
“Captain, I have the report on the gas giant. Methane atmosphere, conditions look good…not sure about this, however.”
The officer sounded puzzled, and Harrison went to the station.
“There, captain. Those returns…metallic? They almost look like…”
Harrison looked on for a bit more, and contacted the other ship in the expeditionary force.
The metallic returns were almost identical to those found in the Chazzwazzer system almost two years ago. Those returns ended up to be the remains of an advanced civilization, and yielded an advance in shield technology so powerful that the Empire ships were still using it today. The captains agreed that it was worth the risk to penetrate further and orbit this planet. West End, however would not go with them, but would return to Velocitas and guard the warp point.
...onboard CDS West End...
Captain O’Rourke returned to Velocitas and immediately began broadcasting the news to Navy headquarters on Nekkar III. Her two requests were agreed to, and the light cruiser Montreal was released from the Pantrissa-Sheliak warp point and was en route to Velocitas. Her second request would definitely change the lives of some, and possibly the entire empire.
...onboard Pinta 034...
The captain was about to engage the automatic sequencers and prepare to assume a back-up role while the colony ship orbited and established a colony on Zanthris III when the message was received overriding the colonizer’s flight plan and ordering it to the Velocitas system. The captain knew Velocitas was designated a quarrantined system by the Navy. He did know was there was a blocakde at a warp point out there, but somehow he doubted the blockade’s success was hinging on a fat and slow colony ship getting there "with all possible speed."
Now warped into Pantrissa his communication link came alive.
“Pinta034, this is CDS Montreal. Continue on new flight plan and prepare to assume formation upon arrival.”
The captain knew light cruisers didn’t escort transports for lack of something better to do...
...in orbit around Zezzis V...
Southampton, Toronto, and Artemis were now in orbit around their prize. They didn’t fear too much from the fighters guarding the colonies, but they were still on guard. Of more immediate concern was the Sergetti fleet four sectors away. Comprised of a light carrier and five frigates, they could pose a real threat. Whether they would fight over the possession of a planet they couldn’t colonize was the question.
Of course, they may just want the Empire kicked out of Zezzis to remove competition. Either way, the next move was theirs
Report to the board...
Finding a planet suitable for a colony was a surprise, and one with ruins was a bonus. It is unfortunate that the colony ship is 3 months away, but it makes for a good storyline. I forgot to post last time the reason I was monitoring Praxis IX was they had their climate control facility completed. Another gain of 2 million inhabitants this month, and still a +5% bonus on construction there.
Level 3 research facilities should be available next month. Upgrades should start then as well.
March 11th, 2008, 01:44 PM
Rita Edwards was making her presence felt. Her policies resulted in an increase of agents to try to stem the flow of information that was being stolen from the Empire. She knew it would take time, but she needed something to grab the attention of the directors of the corporation, and she needed it fast.
This month’s report was being held in the Directorate building, and one of the highlights was the colonization of the first planet in the Forlorn system. Aptly named, the system was at the tail end of the empire, and had only three planets that could become colonies. That number was now down to two, as Forlorn II took its place as an Empire planet.
The research director spoke up.
“Mr. Chairman, we are indeed fortunate to have another such colony within our empire. A huge planet with an oxygen atmosphere will make a wonderful addition to our research capabilities. Now, if I may suggest, Mr. Chairman…”
Rita waited for just this moment, and she acted.
“Mr. Chairman, if I may?” She looked at the research director. “Doctor, please forgive me for the interruption, but I want to put forth an alternative.”
The research director looked perplexed, and was about to say something, but remembered who he was talking to. She had a benign smile on her face, and the director suddenly felt on the wrong end of a cat and mouse game. Logic was his strong suit, and he analyzed his choices. He could confront her, with the possible outcomes of either winning or losing his point. Losing his point would have – at least – consequences that would be detrimental. Winning his point would show up the new director, and that wouldn’t necessarily be a good thing either. He wasn’t worried for his personal safety, but he was worried that she might have a point. So he nodded to her.
“Please, Miss Edwards, do continue.”
For her part, Rita noted the failed attempt at covering up the condescension in the remark. Scientists, she thought. So smart and so very naïve. That, she surmised correctly, was the problem.
“Thank you doctor. As you are all aware, we have been losing information about our empire to alien empires at a rate that should – at least – be a cause for concern. Please do not misunderstand me. I realize that in order to maintain the impressive list of technological advances our research department continues to amaze us with,” – her condescension, on the other hand, was beautifully masked –“they need access to a free flow of ideas. They need to be able to find the piece of information necessary to unlock the secret of the project they are working on. I am not like my predecessor. My desire is to work in the background – away from the efforts of those who study for our benefit.”
The chairman was watching his new intelligence director lay the groundwork for what she wanted. He sensed the point was about to be made.
“Gentlemen, I am not a scientist. I am an intelligence officer. I don’t study science, or texts; I study people. And I find myself in the position of objecting to the research department’s use of our new colony at Forlorn II. I do so with the belief that by objecting to them now, I am ultimately helping them.”
The research director now had to respond. Again, his logic saved him.
“Miss Edwards, I assume you have an alternate plan for the use of Forlorn II?”
Rita jumped a bit too quick at the opening.
“Doctor, we need the planet to serve the Empire in the best way possible. I believe it can best do so under the control of the Intelligence directorate. I want to be able to help stop the flow of information – your discoveries, doctor – to those who may choose to use them against us.”
The research director nodded again, and addressed the Chairman, as well sa the assembled committee.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we have an opportunity today. An opportunity for cooperation between two departments that are – theoretically, at least – inherently at odds with each other. The importance of the free flow of ideas cannot be overshadowed by the prevention of those ideas from being used against us. I want to congratulate our intelligence director for her foresight and concern, and offer my support for her plan for the use of Forlorn II as an intelligence colony.”
He turned to Rita and smiled.
“Please do your best to assist us, Miss Edwards. And please know we will do our best to assist you.”
Rita had her smile transfixed but inwardly she knew the smart, but naïve scientist had just outmaneuvered her. By agreeing with her, he had absolved himself, and his department, of the responsibility for the control of information flowing out of the empire. After all, the intelligence directorate had a shiny new planet of their own. If the information didn’t stop flowing out of the empire now, the only variable left would be her.
”Damn, damn, damn!" she thought to herself. How could she be so easily led? She again looked at the research director. Smart, but naïve wasn’t truly apropos. Naïve, but smart was more to the point. She made one more mental note about the research director.
He learned fast.
Velocitas-Zezzis warp point
...onboard CDS West End...
Captain O’Rourke was a bit disappointed that her role was now that of a tour guide – pointing the way for others to explore the new system. Next on the list was Montreal, followed by Pinta 034. The new minelayer, Aztec was due in from the Haphik system next month. The Sergetti fleet in Zezzis did not challenge the Dawn fleet, but warped out of the system. Taking the opportunity, Southampton was currently scouting the system, and found a Sithrak frigate in the system, as well as five more planets that could be colonies. He also reported a huge ice world that was no doubt on the Sergetti list of planets to be colonized. This piece of information may cause the Empire to pause and think about the possibility of researching ice world colonization. They certainly had the capability. They would need the time, but it could be done. This would also put Dawn in direct competition with every other empire in the galaxy. But hose thoughts weren’t her immediate concern.
Captain Harrison would need to re-supply, and soon West End would change roles with Southampton. She would finally be able to operate on her own without her former commander there. She wasn’t ungrateful to him, but she needed to prove she could operate without his guidance.
She didn't need his guidance to know one thing, though. With four empires now in in the system, the race for Zezzis was on.
March 11th, 2008, 10:38 PM
Onboard CDS Southampton
Captain Harrison was still wary. The Sithrak frigate had warped out of the system much like the Sergetti fleet did earlier. The Phong had colonized the second rock world in the system. The fact that four separate empires either had colonies or had ships in Zezzis was an almost certain scenario for something bad to happen. Over the communication channels, the Sergetti made the first move.
“We are planning a massive offensive in the Zezzis system. Remove your ships or they will get damaged.”
Harrison couldn’t be sure if the message was sent to all ships, or just the Dawn ships in the system. His briefing showed the Sergetti at war with the Cue Cappa, and also with the Sithrak. And they were both in this system. That couldn’t work out too well. He was also still waiting on whether the empire wanted to try and blockade Zezzis XII, which was the huge ice planet with oxygen atmosphere. He had to find out.
“Mister Davis, still no word from the Navy on Zezzis XII?”
The communication officer shook his head.
“No sir. Nothing yet.”
“Very well, Davis. Resend the message and add…”
“Captain! On the sensor display sir!”
The sensor officer interrupted Harrison’s message and they both looked at the new frigate in the system.
The Norakians were now the fifth empire now in Zezzis. Their frigate had interspersed itself between the Toronto and Artemis guarding Zezzis V with its advanced technology and Southampton. Harrison had read the intelligence dispatches about the Norakians being the prime suspect in the intelligence leaks of this past year.
“That’s not all, sir. Look at Zezzis XII again.”
Harrison zoomed on the planet, and saw them. Forty fighters were orbiting the planet. They were too late.
March 12th, 2008, 09:57 AM
Zezzis V was now a Dawn planet. With its colonization, the Dawn empire had staked its claim to the system. The chance to colonize the huge ice planet was, realistically, nothing more than a dream in such a short time span. There were still planets waiting to be inhabited. While none of them had oxygen atmospheres, the strategic position of Zezzis made taking each planet, and thereby the system, a major objective for probably all of the empires that knew about it.
The colony on Dawn investigated the ruins and was able to learn the secret of a weapon that would deplete almost any shield in one shot. The data was transmitted back to the scientists on Nekkar, who would try to make use of the information. Meanwhile, the colonists began building a weapon platform known as a Hercules III. Armed with three anti-proton cannons on large mounts, it also had the latest shield technology. While it wouldn’t hold off a determined adversary on its own, it would be able to assist the ships above in defending the infant colony.
CDS Leeds and Northampton have entered and explored the Tilikanthua system. It is one system-wide storm, but there is a single small warp point leading out of the system.
March 12th, 2008, 12:44 PM
...onboard CDS Leeds...
Sam Chase was never so happy to be at a warp point in his entire career. As the sensor officer for Leeds, the trip through this system was one headache after another. Storms of electrical and plasma discharges seemed to be everywhere. Now, with the warp point ahead, he and the rest of the crew on both his ship and Northampton had, for the past twenty-four hours been running full preventative diagnostics on their systems. With no permanent damage caused by the storms, the signal was sent for Sniper and Melbourne to follow to this warp point as the two frigates prepared to enter the warp point and begin the exploration of a – hopefully – more benign system...
The warp into the gate went off flawlessly, and both ships entered the new system. Chase was over the sensor display, and was waiting for it to resolve itself after the warp event.
'I hope we get these upgraded soon, the longer we wait on these the longer we’re blind to what’s...okay, here we go. "Sensors online Captain. Scans being run now, sir.’”
Chase began the process of separating the date each planet revealed about itself as it was scanned. He began the readout.
“Yellow star, five planets in view, sir. One asteroid field in view. Sir, all five planets are gas giants, and two of them are breathable.”
Chase looked again at the readout on Mentocka VII.
“Sir! Mentocka VII has ruins!”
Immediately, the captain notified Northampton, and they decided Northampton would orbit Mentocka VII, and Leeds would orbit VIII – a tiny planet, but it had oxygen – and get a bit more of the new system exposed to their sensor arrays. This was about to happen when Chase’s sensor display indicated a proximity alert.
“Sir, contact! Contact is a Xi’Chung frigate. Distance is ten sectors. She’s eight sectors from Mentocka VII. She appears to be headed this way."
Northampton immediately went into orbit around Mentocka VII, and Leeds held at the warp point to black any attempt to get behind them and into Dawn space unopposed. The Xi’Chung were supposed to be only interested in rock worlds, but no one was taking any chances.
Report to the board
Upgrades to research stations now almost complete. Current research point generation is over 130,000 per month. Cloaking will be available next month, as will an upgrade to space yards (level 3), climate control facilities (level 2). Also available next month will be phased energy weapons.
Time to start thinking about building up a home fleet...
End of report
March 13th, 2008, 03:57 AM
...onboard CDS West End...
Captain O’Rourke was ready for this moment. She, along with the light cruiser Montreal and the repair ship Alice Springs were guarding the warp point back to Velocitas. She had trained long hours. She had served as an operations officer on Southampton. She had participated in battles, but was not in command of any. She was always carrying out someone else’s orders. She longed for the chance to prove to herself – not for the ability to impress others with her accomplishments. She wanted to know herself that she could handle the responsibility of leading her crew into harm’s way and safely back out again.
Oh yes, she was ready.
The Sithrak were giving her the opportunity. What was presumed to be an expeditionary force of one frigate and one supply freighter was trying to make it to the warp point. O’Rourke had followed standard procedures – hailing, warning, interspersing; but the Sithrak didn’t respond. Finally, on their third attempt to get to the point, the freighter turned away to run and the frigate closed on the Dawn ships.
O’Rourke was in command of the blocking force. She sent Montreal ahead of her, and followed behind. Alice Springs needed no encouragement to clear the field. Scans of the frigate showed it was woefully outgunned. It didn’t stop, however. When the frigate got inside West End's missile envelope, it didn’t stop. When it was hit by one of those missiles, it finally slowed down.
Montreal was closing onto the Sithrak, and opened fire with its three anti-proton beams. Montreal took hits from the Sithrak DUC, but the shield regenerator had the shield at almost full strength before the Sithrak could fire another shot.
West End launched a second volley of missiles, and then shut its targeting computer down. O’Rourke was operating on a limited supply amount, and Montreal should have no problem finishing off the frigate. She didn’t, and the resulting explosion was something of an epiphany for Katherine O’Rourke. She realized she was the reason that 100 lives – alien or not – were no longer part of the galaxy.
She ordered the force to stand down, and the freighter exited the system. They wouldn’t have caught her before she escaped, and O’Rourke finally had her trial by fire. She knew she had won, but she also felt she lost.
She now knew why Captain Harrison and her instructors didn’t really say much about their combat experiences. She wondered if they felt this much shame as well.
She ordered Montreal to hold the point, and she moved West End two sectors into the system to join up with the Pinta that just entered the system. Together, they would colonize one of the gas giants in the system. O’Rourke hoped she would feel better when they would be building a colony instead of destroying lives.
Chazzwazzer Star System…
...onboard CDS Harvester 004 in asteroid field #3...
James Cabrera was fast becoming a wealthy man. One of the first captains of the Harvester class mining ships, his radiation resources were flowing like gas out of a nebula. His crew was also very handsomely rewarded. He was able to arrange for some “unofficial” shuttle flights planetside for his crew, and had taken advantage of the opportunity to enjoy some of the activities that were just this side of legal that some traders offered.
Today, though, all hands were onboard, as the supply shuttle was due in. Cabrera was always nervous when another ship came into the field with his freighter. He knew most of the shuttle pilots, and they were all good enough men and women; but flying in and amongst rocks that weighed on the order so several kilotonnes required a skill all its own.
The shuttle docked, and supplies were being transferred. One passenger on the shuttle got off, and was flanked by two people wearing intelligence directorate uniforms. Before they made it out of the hangar, the workers had already passed the word that some very inhospitable types were on their way into the ship probably to see the captain. Cabrerra knew they were coming, but where would he go?
Cabrerra was contemplating how much a fine was for illegal activities on a planet when the door opened. The woman in the middle of the uniformed officers spoke.
Not ‘Captain’, but ‘Mister’, thought Cabrerra. Oh well, might as well see what they want.
“Yes, I am. And who might you be?”
The woman smiled.
“I have a special consignment you need to view and sign for.”
Cabrerra didn’t understand.
“I haven’t ordered anything like that. And I haven’t received any requests to assist the Navy.”
Technically, the Navy couldn’t order a civilian ship to participate in a purely military matter, but saying no to them wasn’t really a good idea. The woman looked a bit sheepish.
“Well, there’s the rub, Mister Cabrerra. We’re not exactly Navy, or Empire, for that matter.”
Cabrerra now caught on. Smugglers. He had been approached before about using his ship as a “drop”, but the price was always too low.
Cabrerra smiled back at them.
“Well, let’s go see what you have, shall we?”
Together, the group made their way back to the hangar. The supplies were finished off-loading, and the group approached a container near the shuttle.
Cabrerra approached it, but was stopped in his tracks when the two security guards leveled their weapons at him. Cabrerra backed up and raised his hands.
“Whoa, fellas – just wanted to take a look. I’ll sit right here if you want me to.”
The woman spoke again, but there was a distinct difference in her mannerism.
“Captain Cabrerra, I am Lieutenant Isly of the Intelligence Directorate. You are under arrest for illegal activities while operating with an Empire contract. You will accompany us. Your second-in-command is now in command. Please step into the shuttle, Captain.”
Cabrerra rubbed his chin while he considered his options. The hangar crew stopped what they were doing and were starting to approach the group, but their – and Cabrerra’s – options dwindled to zero when six more armed men emerged from the shuttle. Cabrerra made up his mind quickly.
“Okay, Lieutenant, I’ll go with you. Let’s get this cleared up, shall we?” He turned to his second-in command. “I should only be a few days – and a whole lot poorer,” he winked. Then he turned and boarded the shuttle.
Chazzwazzer-Nekkar warp point...
The shuttle docked with a freighter, that much Cabrerra had surmised. But no one got out of the shuttle. Through the docking port, the shuttle’s occupants had access to the freighter’s computers and displays. Cabrerra was watching the main view as the freighter approached the warp point. He seemed confused.
“Lieutenant, just where exactly are we going?”
The lieutenant was staring at Cabrerra as if sizing him up. Then, after an interminable pause, she answered him.
March 13th, 2008, 01:21 PM
Ed Jefferies was back in his favorite off-duty hangout, and his favorite companion was with him. What the woman thought might be the end of a potential gold mine of information turned out to be a boon. Jefferies came back complaining about having lost his wallet the day after the Intelligence Directorate raid, but the bartender told him his “companion” had turned it in to the bartender when he “went to sleep” because she didn’t want anyone to steal it from him. A grateful Jefferies returned to the establishment later that night and found his wallet – with his money still inside. The fact that the bartender was “doing a good deed for a fellow Empire citizen” helped improve his business, and the bartender had to admit doing things the way those stuffed shirt agents twisted his arm into doing wasn’t all bad. The girl also benefited. And so did her employers.
They had been talking about a more permanent relationship. They did enjoy each other’s company, but today, Jefferies was agitated and almost despondent.
“It’s my fault,” he confessed. “The engine coupling weld gave way and the entire compartment was breached!!”
She bade him to slow down, and he explained the story about how the CDS York – one of the last of the older frigates – was being refit, but his mistake caused the entire engine compartment to vent, filling it with radioactive gas. The gas couldn’t be contained, and the ship had to be abandoned. Shuttles were even now taking salvage crews to the York to save what they could before taking her to the edge of the system to become a target for a live fire missile exercise.
Just then, the video displays in the establishment cut in with a news story, about what had happened to the York, and reassuring the good citizens that the disaster was contained to the ship in space. The story then cut to the reporter asking the right questions and the expert giving the right answers…
The woman pointed out to Jefferies that no one had been killed, and this ship called “York” was old and outdated anyway, so it really wasn’t that bad of a tragedy. Besides, he was able learn from the failed weld and not make that mistake again.
She smiled as she delivered her analysis for him, and he did feel better. She was right – it was a mistake, but he cold learn from it. He really felt good about sharing with her, and he told her so.
She said she did as well, and that she would pray for him…
Meanwhile, James Cabrerra was thoroughly confused by this time. Both he and his “escorts” had been aboard the shuttle for over a month. Both they and their “mothership” – the freighter they were docked with – had made two more jumps to arrive in Pantrissa. Now free of the need for the freighter, the shuttle made remarkable time to the giant space yard at Pantrissa V. Of course, just when Cabrerra thought he had an idea of where he was going, the plan changed again.
“We’re not going to the yard?” he asked.
The men and women escorting him did not reply, but Cabrerra’s question was more rhetorical than anything else. He could see for himself they weren’t going to the yard, but to a ship that was just outside the yard.
“Mister Cabrerra. Please put this on. Now.”
The agent pointed to a space suit, and again, Cabrerra examined his options. Option one, put the space suit on. Option two was pointed right at his head, and held by an agent who was probably recruited for his distinct inability to show any facial expression.
He got into the suit.
When they docked with York, Cabrerra heard a voice as he stepped into the airlock. He turned and looked back, to see the agent with no expression now pointing a camera at him, with a bright light over his shoulder.
“Probably recording this for posterity, the bastards. And all of this for smuggling a little Sithrak ale.”
He stepped through the airlock.
Back at the bar, Jefferies was watching the story, when the reporter cut in again with a live news feed from one of the salvage shuttles.
On the shuttle, the female agent spoke her monologue perfectly, and the empire got a chance to see a real live salvage expert go into a real live radioactive ship and help save the planet from any further damage. When she was finished, the shuttle undocked and left the ship.
The other door of the airlock opened, and a man in a black uniform met him. His face was also devoid of emotion. He had one more thing in common with the man he just left. He also had option number two. He escorted Cabrerra to a small cabin, where he finally spoke.
“Remove your suit. Sit down. Wait here.”
The man left and the door locked behind him. Cabrerra was about to get up and test the door, when the display terminal on a table suddenly energized. It resolved into a strikingly beautiful female face. She smiled.
“Good day, Mr. Cabrerra. My name is Rita Edwards. Welcome aboard your new ship.”
After an hour, Cabrerra was finally a bit more informed of his situation. He was to captain a frigate that wasn’t an official ship, to head into space that wasn’t officially belonging to the empire, and to scan for ships without officially being near any ships.
He did know one thing for an immutable fact, however. He was – officially – now a member of the Intelligence Directorate.
March 13th, 2008, 03:46 PM
...onboard CDS West End...
Katherine O’Rourke was happy to have the colony on Zezzis IV established. She was less happy about it being 3 sectors away from Zezzis XI, a Sergetti planet. In point of fact, Zezzis IV, and Zezzis VIII were both new colonies for the empire. The situation was tenuous. The Sergetti claimed this system as theirs, with five colonies established. The Sergetti backed up their claim with a fleet orbiting Zezzis XI. The Phong also had two colonies in the system, and there was still one Sithrak frigate in the system. The Norak frigate was either out of the system or our of sensor range.
Captain O’Rourke had requested the Artemis to support her at Zezzis IV. Captain Harrison, the overall system commander, was on Southampton guarding Zezzis V and his defense was just augmented by 48 mines delivered by Aztec. Backed up by the minefield - and Montreal still guarding the warp point, he approved and detached Artemis. O’Rourke had good reason to ask for the PDS ship. The Sergetti fleet at Zezzis XI included five frigates and a freighter. But the concern to O’Rourke was the light carrier. She had found the home base of the fleet they had seen when they first entered the system. There were also 80 fighters in orbit around the planet. She wasn’t sure how the Sergetti would respond to the new neighbors, but they had been sending messages that were less than welcoming. Zezzis VIII was also colonized, and was being guarded by Toronto. O’Rourke knew she and Artemis could survive if the Sergetti moved against the new colonies, but her job was to provide security while the colonies got established. The colonists were doing their part – the new Hercules III weapon platform was available. With two anti-proton beams on large mounts, a new short range ripper beam, also on a large mount, two flak cannons, one beam PDS cannon, and a level five shield; it would be able to give as good as it got. Two of them were scheduled to be built on each of the three colonies. Fortunately, Zezzis V had completed the supply depot, and the ships were fully restocked. The question now was would they have the time to get the job done.
...onboard CDS Beagle...
Captain Cabrerra now had the full story. He was in command of a ghost ship. The Beagle was an intelligence-gathering platform. His ability to operate in the tight quarters of asteroid fields was his prime ability for this job. With this ship, he would be navigating through a different field of asteroids – the kind that fired back.
To accomplish his mission, however, he was getting the best the scientists of the empire had to offer. The “salvage team” was a team of intelligence technicians installing the most advanced sensor arrays the empire had available. There were also a team of the agents he had been introduced to on the trip to Pantrissa. Rita Edwards, the Intelligence Director, explained to Cabrerra through her pre-recorded message that they were there to guard the sensitive equipment and protect the highly trained and intelligent men and women, like himself, she added; from falling into enemy hands should their ship be discovered and captured. Cabrerra wasn’t that naïve, and he wondered if the “highly trained and intelligent” operators on board knew what that really meant.
He also was briefed on the new cloaking technology, the long-range scanners, the jamming equipment, and the ECM capabilities. There was also a minesweeping assembly. Extra supply storage was also included. Cabrerra took note of this – someone expected them to be away from home for a long time. He wasn’t briefed on weapons, shields, or armor for a very simple reason.
There wasn’t any.
His life, and the life of the ship’s crew would depend on their ability to be as invisible as possible.
In a final irony, Cabrerra found, in his quarters, a crate marked “Commander, CDS Beagle.”
Opening the crate he found a bottle of Sithrak ale.
[i]Report to the board:
Hi everyone. Sorry for the long introduction to cloaking in the story, but it does fit in with the game. I'm losing quite a lot to enemy intelligence - just force concentration stuff and planet scans. The girl at the bar isn't Norakian, but a sympathizer. Of course, Jefferies isn't just a welder, either. I think writing the intelligence side of the game gives a few more possible storylines.
As I mentioned in the story, the Sergetti aren't amused with my intrusion into Zezzis. Neither are the Phong, but the Sergetti fleet in system can actually do something about it. We'll see how they respond.
Anyway, thanks for reading. Feel free to comment if you like, or just enjoy the story. http://forum.shrapnelgames.com/images/smilies/smile.gif Next chapter will be tomorrow.
March 15th, 2008, 12:02 PM
...onboard CDS West End...
Still in high orbit around Zezzis IV, West End and Artemis both received a proximity alert at the same time. The Sergetti fleet had moved into the sector, and was on a direct bearing for the planet.
With the ships now in the same sector, the make-up of the Sergetti fleet could be analyzed.
“Reading seven contacts, Captain. Scans show four are equipped with multiple point defense cannons, one is a missile frigate with two missiles tubes, just like us. Contact six is a carrier, scans read 34 fighters on board. Contact seven is a freighter, but it does have a repair bay.”
The planetary governor sent a message that the weapon platform was still not available. West End and Artemis were on their own. O’Rourke did send a message to Toronto, but she would not make it to them before this battle started.
The Sergetti assumed an arrowhead formation with the one missile frigate in an echelon right position, and the carrier and freighter in an echelon left position. The four PDS frigates were in the center.
Sensors again reported.
“Captain, I believe I see an opening. If we can get in line with the missile frigate, and the enemy hold their positions, he’ll have only one PDS ship that can support him.”
He moved his cursor on the display to show where he thought the weak point was.
O’Rourke nodded. “Good call, sensors. Advise Artemis. Helm, try and loop around the back side of that missile ship, but be ready to close if they continue towards the colony.”
The plan was to stay in formation, and draw the enemy away from the unprotected colonists. Artemis, with her shields and regenerators, would stay in-between West End and the Sergetti. As a further enticement for the enemy to chase the ships, Artemis would slide into and out of the missile range of the Sergetti, counting on her own point defense to protect her.
The two forces closed, and the two Dawn ships began to try and loop behind the attackers.
Sensors provided the information for O’Rourke.
“Captain, multiple new contacts! The carrier has launched her fighters. The carrier and freighter are turning away.”
“Roger, sensors. Helm, stay on course. Let me know if they come for us or continue to the planet.”
Seventeen seconds into the engagement, O’Rourke had her answer.
“Contacts changing course, Captain. Bearing now 220, headed toward us. Targets 200 km from colony, 190 km from us.”
O’Rourke didn’t respond, but kept her eyes on the display.
“Helm, plot an intercept course with the lead frigate!”
“Recommend course 016, Captain.”
”Approved, helm. Get us in close to those ships.”
The two forces now closed on each other at a substantially faster rate.
As they closed, O’Rourke again turned from the enemy, and ran across their bow, hoping to get behind the missile frigate and attack it with as few PDS ships supporting it as possible. Artemis continued into the formation, trying to draw fire.
Twenty kilometers from the edge of the frigate’s cannon range, Artemis turned to starboard, and the two Dawn ships now split around the formation. Artemis was trying to get close to the fighters, and skimmed through the weapon arcs of the enemy. Meanwhile, West End fired her first missile volley at the lead frigate. O’Rourke gave the order to cease firing then until the missile frigate could be targeted. She wanted to see how effective the Sergetti PDS umbrella was.
As it turned out, the umbrella was quite effective. Both of her missiles were destroyed before they got within 20 km of the frigate. Meanwhile, the enemy fleet had decided she was the priority target and started to bear in her direction.
Thirty four seconds into the fight, West End was just 5 km outside the weapon range of the frigates, when she started to pull away from the enemy. O’Rourke had to keep her speed up, or else she would end up nothing more than an explosion in space. She was unable to get behind the missile frigate, so she was content to lead them away from the colony as well as Artemis.
Artemis, for her part, had gotten behind the enemy’s frigates and was bearing down on the fighters trailing the formation.
The battle now was for the two ships to stay alive long enough for Toronto to arrive…
...onboard CDS Aztec...
Aztec was on her way back to Zezzis. She carried 48 more mines from Haphik II. She was going to try and use these to help protect the new colonists in the Zezzis system. The crew had been receiving commsat reports of the Sergetti aggression, and tried to get every kilometer of speed out of the ship they could.
Chairman Lomax listened to the report delivered by his research directorate. He was reluctant to approve this latest project, but the facts were overwhelming. In the battle with the Sithrak frigate in Zezzis, the entire compliment of Montreal’s boarding party had been wiped out by less than half of their number of Sithrak. They had to have an advantage to counter the physical superiority of adversaries. Biological warfare was a term used in hushed tones, and caused all sorts nightmarish scenarios to be conjured up, but there was really no choice. They had to proceed. The project was approved.
Rita Edwards then presented the responses of the Norak government to the demand to stop their spying. The reply was almost ludicrous.
“And what are you going to do about it, Chairman Lomax? Your military is a third rate power.”
Rita Edwards told the assembled heads of the corporation what they were going to do about it, and introduced them to a brand new ship, commanded by an ex-freighter captain...
...onboard CDS West End...
Captain O’Rourke was still alive. Her ship was damaged, but ship and crew was still alive. Artemis - with her shields and regenreators - took fighter hits, but was undamaged. The colonists were still alive as well, and that was the important part.
The Sergetti fleet lay burning throughout the sector. O’Rourke’s missiles had finally penetrated the PDS ships, and one was destroyed. The missile frigate, as well as the other four PDS ships was disarmed, and trying to escape the sector. Artemis’ flak cannon had taken out 23 of the 34 fighters launched against them. The carrier and repair freighter had left the sector, only to run into Toronto who was on her way to assist West End. Toronto fought through the limited fighter screen offered up by the carrier, and destroyed the freighter. The carrier escaped, and there was one more frigate that hadn’t participated in the battle still out there. Toronto let it go, returned to guarding Zezzis VIII. The colonists for all three Dawn planets reported they had completed the new Hercules IV weapons platform.
The Dawn empire had just secured a foothold in Zezzis...
March 15th, 2008, 03:21 PM
Mentocka VIII becomes the second Dawn colony in this new system. The ruins on Mentocka VII yielded a new technology that allows a weapon to be constructed that can siphon power from one ship onto another. A Cue Cappa frigate is six sectors from Mentocka VIII and five from the warp point into Tilikanthua and Ushphada. The frigate Leeds has moved into orbit over Mentocka VIII while Northampton, the PDS destroyer Sniper and the repair ship Melbourne guard the warp point to Tilikanthua. Mentocka VII has its first Hercules V weapons platform (two anti-proton beams and two meson blasters – all on large mounts – two flak cannons, one point defense beam, a level five shield and a level two ECM) and was building a second, to be followed by a supply depot.
Haphik I space yard...
The latest frigate design, the England VIII, was launched this month. The first of the new line was christened CDS Thames. It features three level four capital ship missiles, and additional ordinance storage. Again, there is no armor or shields. This is a pure offensive powerhouse.
The new ship warped into the Velocitas system and was on its way to augment the defenders in Zezzis.
...onboard CDS Beagle
Captain James Cabrerra wasn’t ready for the real thing. He had been spending the past month and a half working in simulators with the new frigate. Although he had demonstrated the capability to work in close, he needed to learn to work with the new crew and his new ship. The simulations of the engines impressed him the most. Most of his career was spent on large, slow-moving behemoths. Now, he was in a smaller vessel built for stealth and speed. He thought he knew how it would be to command this racehorse of a ship. He was in for a surprise.
The technicians on the bridge were all specialists in their own areas. Normally the case for any starship, it was especially true for Beagle. These were without a doubt the elite of the empire.
Two months ago, when Cabrerra was “assigned” to the York/Beagle, the ship limped to the edge of the Pantrissa, and Dover fired a missile, engaging a self-destruct command for the missile to blow up. The timing was perfect, since just as the missile exploded 5 km away from York/Beagle, the technicians engaged the cloak system. It worked perfectly. To the rest of the empire, York had been obliterated, along with the “radioactive menace” it represented.
CDS York was officially listed as destroyed.
At the same moment, Beagle was born.
That was two months ago. The crew was training, testing, and calibrating equipment until now. Now, Beagle was about to head into systems of other empires. She would be on her own. She had to be.
With the exception of the crew, only a handful of people even knew she existed.
“Ahead full, helm. Let’s see what we have here.”
Cabrerra’s command was instantly acknowledged. He unsuccessfully tried to keep his jaw shut while Beagle rocketed through the system on her way to Sheliak. The speed was even faster than the simulation predicted.
“Damn...” he whispered as they penetrated the Sheliak warp point. First stop, perform a scan of the Chethod ships and satellites at Sheliak III. Assuming they were successful, the next stop would be points beyond. They would try to get into Zezzis through Sheliak, but would be ready to scan and report on whatever they found.
Velocitas Asteroid belt XVII...
The Harvester nudged itself into position. This time was looked forward to ever since the discovery of the “dead” system. The giant ship began its checks and engaged its robominers. Within a few days, the projections were in. This one belt was providing over 9400 radioactive resources per month.
And there were sixteen more belts to mine in this system alone...
Captain O’Rourke took West End back to Zezzis V while Captain Harrison and Southampton took her position guarding the colony on Zezzis IV. Alice Springs also headed to Zezzis V to perform repair work on O’Rourke’s frigate. Both ships also took on a full load of supplies from the planet. With 48 mines in orbit, and three planet based weapon platforms, this was about the safest place for Dawn ships in the system. O’Rourke and her crew needed the downtime. As soon as Alice Springs was alongside and repairs had begun, O’Rourke headed to her cabin. She felt like she could sleep for the entire month. She would need to.
There was another colony ship due in and she was to escort to the new colony – two sector from her battle with the Sergetti.
March 16th, 2008, 02:27 AM
The woman was praying again. Ed Jefferies was in the other room. He was watching a repeat of the video that ran earlier.
“...and despite the best efforts of our diplomats, the announcement was made that as of this broadcast, a state of war now exists between the Sergetti Empire and the Colonial Dawn Empire...”
Jefferies walked into the room. She was on her knees, whispering into the talisman that was glowing. She didn’t react to his entry, but kept on praying. Jefferies recognized the words, and listened to her speak of a new type of a ship, and that York hadn’t been destroyed.
Jefferies leveled the pistol at the back of her head and pulled the trigger. He then put the talisman back into his pocket and left the building. His shuttle would be leaving for Nekkar in an hour.
Like all hostile takeovers, this one needed to be done fast. The empire was going to lose production and research capabilities, but that was balanced with the prospect of capturing intact worlds and using them for the empire’s benefit. Lomax didn’t ask for this war. He only wanted to colonize Zezzis and live peaceably with the Sergetti (didn’t he?). He had no interest in conquest (none at all...?) but he gave the go ahead to both the research and intelligence directorate to take any and all steps necessary to end this war as fast as possible.
A brand new England VII slid out of the mooring docks at Nekkar III. She was christened CDS Manchester, and began the journey to Zezzis...
With the announcement of war, the ships in Zezzis now took absolutely no chances. Toronto finished off two of the cripples from the earlier encounter with West End. A new type of satellite, the Ferret, with cloaking and long range scan capability orbited each of the three Zezzis colonies. Information started to pour in, and a plan was forming for the capture of the Zezzis system and the elimination of a Sergetti presence there.
...onboard CDS Beagle...
Captain Cabrerra read the message, and announced it to the crew. The fact war had broken out had done nothing to change their mission. Beagle made for the warp point exiting Sheliak. On her way, the technicians reported on the facilities of the two planets in their path, along with the defenders and support ships in the area. The scanners were working perfectly. They were about to leave the system, when the scans detected forty ships guarding the exit point. Thirty-eight were frigates, and two were carriers. That got the attention of the Pantrissa system, since there was only one frigate and one point-defense ship now guarding the Pantrissa-Sheliak warp point. Of more immediate concern was how Cabrerra was going to navigate unseen among that many ships...
March 16th, 2008, 01:53 PM
...onboard CDS Beagle...
Captain Cabrerra didn’t like what he was hearing. No matter what he tried, he would not be able to get into the warp point undetected by the Chethrod blockade of over forty ships. He had no choice but to turn back to Pantrissa and try to get into the other systems through the Zezzis battleground.
Not the best option for someone who survives by being unseen, but there just wasn’t any other way...
Zezzis XI was the homeworld of the Sergetti. Toronto and Artemis had just decimated the fighter protection for the planet, and the carrier that was being repaired was also destroyed. In order to establish the blockade on the system, the fleet had left the colonies to defend themselves, which they were now capable to do. The plan was to blockade Zezzis XI, and close the system to outside interference. Toronto and Artemis had established the blockade of the Sergetti homeworld, while Southampton and West End took up positions guarding the two warp points out of Zezzis. Montreal still held the warp point back to Velocitas, and the first of the new class of frigates, Manchester, was due to arrive in Zezzis next month. Each of the three colonies in Zezzis began to build the newly designed Eagle fighter, both for their own defense, as well as to augment the impending invasion of the Sergetti worlds...
Haphik I space yard...
The ship was even bigger than the Harvester class of remote mining ships. Christened Freightliner, it was still two months away from completion, but it was able to carry supplies, ordinance, and just about anything else a system might need.
Including troops that were being trained on Haphik II...
Pantrissa V space yard...
The second minelayer of the empire was under construction. Based on the report from Beagle, the decision was made that the Pantrissa-Sheliak warp point was considerably under-defended. There would be no way to get enough ships in time to counter the Chethrod force, but a minefield would certainly help, especially since Beagle had not detected a minesweeper. There was a treaty between the Chethrod and Dawn, but treaties were no guarantee of another’s actions. Pantrissa III and Pantrissa VII were in-between the space yard and the warp point, so they began to build mines.
A lot of mines...
March 18th, 2008, 02:37 PM
I'm still here, and will have another post up probably tomorrow. There is a lot going on in the empire, and it's taking a bit of time to get the narration to mesh with the gameplay, along with the more mundane aspects like real life, etc.
Thanks to all whove been following the Dawn - more is on the way!
March 19th, 2008, 11:24 AM
The research of the empire was running at full capacity. Next month the empire would be able to colonize ice planets, making any known planet type available for acquisition. The scientists were also close to unlocking the “power leech” that was discovered in Mentocka. While not sure of how it could be applied, the potential was interesting.
Of less “interest” and more immediacy was the war with the Sergetti. The interior department announced that mineral stocks were below fifty percent, and current operational usage would deplete them in three months.
The defense department made its recommendation.
“Ladies and gentlemen, given this information, we recommend that our forces in the front line systems change over to a defensive posture. Upon consultation with my staff and the interior department, we propose the following: First, that the systems of Pantrissa, Mentocka, and Zezzis are designated as 'front-line' systems. Priority will be given to, as I said, defensive operations. Planets in those systems should concentrate on building weapon platforms and develop as the situation allows. Second, the remaining systems in the empire should be directed to improve resource gathering and infrastructure improvements. Third, we continue to deploy our latest unit type, the Eagle. If you will direct your attention to the monitors…”
The video began to play showing the first generation of fighter for the Empire (the video made it a point that the earlier development of the "Spider" fighter program was an illegal operation that was contrary to corporate goals at that time). The Eagle has an anti-proton beam, a combat sensor package, ECM and a smaller version of a level 5 shield. Their simulation trials showed a combat speed of an astonishing 22km/sec and that, the narrator explained, was enough to run down any target they chose. While individually not very powerful, their strength would come from massed attacks where their speed, ECM and shields should guarantee a better than average survival percentage for the individual pilot. The narrator then thanked the viewer for their attention.
“To continue, we have deployed a few of these fighters in Zezzis, and are developing them in Ushphada as a stopgap against any incursion from the Mentocka system.
We also completed the deployment of the first cloaked satellites, with the ability to scan ships and planets up to five sectors away. We plan to also deploy these to allow the monitoring of ship traffic around the warp points of the front line systems.
Finally, we will augment the defense of the front line warp points with minefields. The minelayer Aztec has already laid a minefield at the Zezzis-Velocitas warp point, and the new frigate Manchester will arrive to relieve Montreal from guarding the warp point. Montreal will then proceed to the far side of the Zezzis star to assist in defending the colonies close to the Sergetti homeworld.”
Defense concluded with a screen showing new dispositions in Zezzis. West End and Southampton pulled back from the two unknown warp points and defended established colonies in the system. Toronto and Artemis left the Sergetti homeworld and returned to guarding Dawn colonies as well. It was hoped this show of benevolence would help push the Sergetti to the negotiation table. Also in the system was the new frigate Thames.
The meeting was about to be adjourned when an announcement was delivered to the heads of the corporation. A message from the Phong was received. They had sympathized with the Sergetti and had joined the war against Dawn. The Abbidon had also sent a message demanding Dawn to leave the Mentocka system.
Dawn was about to realize the bad side to being king of the hill.
...onboard CDS West End...
Captain O’Rourke was becoming a legend. Word of her defense at Zezzis IV against a Sergetti carrier and five frigates had reached the colonies, and their congratulations and well-wishes were starting to filter back to her at the front. She had even received messages from classes of school children throughout the empire. To be fair, the entire fleet was receiving such messages, but a genuine fair-haired heroine was too good of an opportunity for the advertising department to pass up. Her parents, still alive, were interviewed and treated like royalty. Relatives of colonists on Zezzis IV were thankful to the point of embarrassment for the safe defense of their own loved ones.
Neither was Artemis left out on the accolades. But while the military analysts made the point that Artemis was the shield that allowed West End to attack and cripple the Sergetti, the public couldn’t get enough of O’Rourke. Her picture was now the standard showing the right with which the Dawn empire proceeded into Zezzis. Spirits were high, and even more so now that more and better empire ships were now in the front lines.
O’Rourke was a bit surprised at the attention, and wasn’t sure if the attention brought to her family was a bit much. She was grateful that the military was intercepting most of the greetings and ridiculous offers of marriage, endorsements, and other communications from reaching the ship. The well-wishes were deemed to be morale boosters, and they, especially from the children - were sent to the ship.
She was also worried now that the Phong were in the war. There was a Phong planet within two sectors of Zezzis V, and that would surely be attacked. More life forms would die.
She thought back to the day in Ushphada when she was the operations officer on Southampton, and Captain Harrison destroyed that first Cue Cappa ship. About how she yearned for the chance to “prove herself” in combat.
About how naïve she was.
She didn’t regret, but she did wish she could have found another way to learn that in combat, nobody really wins. You simply survive. And the more you survive, the more you become a hero to those who have no idea of what combat is really like.
You also become a target...
...onboard CDS Aztec
The mines were loaded, and the ship left Zezzis V for the Lezzari warp point. Scouted by West End, there were Phong colonies there. The warp point was exactly seven sectors away – and Aztec could make the entire round trip in one month. When they reached the warp point, Aztec was wary, but managed to deploy 23 mines at the point. Next month, is all went according to plan, she’d deploy 23 more.
The discovery of the Cue Cappa frigate in Ushphada raised the alarm. Fighters had been sent to intercept the ship.
“Eagle lead to all Eagles – there it is. 195,000km from the border. Looks like its turning back toward us…”
So began the first official interception of a Cue Cappa frigate by Dawn fighters. Three of the Eagles were severely damaged, but the frigate was a lifeless hulk. It’s destruction was averted when the fighter control from Ushphada I called the fighters back for repair. Despite the protests of the eager pilots, Dawn had plans for the Cue Cappa ship...
March 20th, 2008, 02:48 AM
Onboard CDS Sniper...
With the completion of the supply depot Sniper was ordered to complete the exploration of the Mentocka system. Leeds also explored a little, but not far, since she had to return to guard the colonists the same month. Sniper was able to explore all of the rest of the system, and found two stable warp points. There were two Cue Cappa planets in the system with the Abbidon planets, but none of the planets were homeworlds. Each of the three empires had two colonies in the system, and there was one gas giant left, and three ice worlds. Dawn, now with the ability to colonize ice planets, could possibly establish colonies on all of them, and legitimize its claim that Mentocka belonged to the Dawn...
...onboard CDS Chaney...
She was the first of the new Chaney class frigate. Unlike her sister class, England, her weapon was not conventional. She carried a different kind of death. Her job was to not destroy ships, but to take them. To do so, she had a boarding party compliment as well, but her boarders carried no weapons, save a small tool kit with a cutting torch to clear debris. She would find her first trial in Ushphada space, floating lifelessly where the fighters left it.
Chaney arrived in the sector with the Cue Cappa frigate, and confirmed her condition with a scan. Then, she closed to within 40km. The captain gave the order to fire.
In the bowels of the ship, protected from the rest of the craft with shielding and sealed doors was the weapon bay. Nobody was inside, however. The weapon crew loaded and fired the weapon from the other side of the sealed room. Computer displays showed the status of each weapon. There were only three weapons “loaded” today, one for the attack on the frigate, and two because protocol held that the Chaney might stumble into a battle and not have time to load them on the spot.
Chaney’s weapon – a missile body, in essence – was “loaded” by injecting a toxic cocktail made of radioactive isotopes, bacteria, and viruses. In fact, every known pathogen the medical labs in the Empire knew of was on board this new ship. The Chaney class was – in a very real sense – a ship of death.
Today’s mission was to fire the weapon at the Cue Cappa frigate and then board the ship. The “boarders” were medical technicians, who would certify the fast acting agents were inert, and the ship could be crewed by the Empire. The plan worked perfectly, as the weapons fired, penetrated, and the boarders certified the ship fit for habitation within an hour after infection. This particular ship, however would have to wait for the repair ship, Melbourne, to repair the damage left by the fighters before it would be space worthy. Chaney would wait with her, but once Melbourne began to repair the frigate, Chaney would head into Zezzis and give the enemies of Dawn a new threat to defend against...
...onboard CDS Jaguar...
The new Aztec class minelayer, Jaguar was immediately sent to pick up a load of mines and lay a minefield at the Pantrissa-Sheliak warp point. Dover and Longbow were already on station guarding the point. Next month Jaguar would arrive and begin to close the door with Sheliak.
...onboard CDS Freightliner...
The ship was huge, even larger than the new Harvester being built at the same yard. Freightliner left the yard and went to Haphik II, where a load of ground troops was taken on board. The transport then made its way to Velocitas, and eventually to the Zezzis war zone.
Zezzis V control center...
The operators on display noticed the proximity alert, and switched to a view of the Zezzis-Lezzari warp point. It began to shimmer, and seven Phong ships made it into the Zezzis system. As each materialized, it triggered a timer circuit in a mine, which would patiently wait for 13 millionths of a second to receive a code that would prevent detonation. Not receiving the code, the mines began to explode all around the frigates. Damage to the fleet was substantial, as four of the six frigates were now without armor, weapons or supplies. One frigate sustained moderate armor damage, but still had point-defense capability. One missile frigate was unharmed. Also severely damaged was a cargo transport. Whatever it was carrying was now gone, as all cargo bays were destroyed. It also had no armor or supplies.
As the fleet limped into the system away from the warp point, Aztec laid a new field of twenty-four mines for the next intrusion. Aztec then returned to Zezzis V, and the controllers decided that Thames and West End, augmented by Montreal would attack the Phong. Meanwhile, a message from the Sergetti to a colony ship in system was intercepted. The ship was to colonize a planet in the Lezzari system. Toronto was ordered to intercept and disable the ship. The Sergetti had refused to accept the terms offered by Dawn, so their ships now would be attacked.
Fighters had dispatched the lone Sergetti frigate that was damaged, and Toronto chased down and attacked the colony ship. She was able to destroy the crew compartment, and her boarding parties met no resistance. Again, like the Cue Cappa frigate in Ushphada, there was massive damage to the ship, and Alice Springs was also in the sector, trying to get the big ship able to sustain a crew to get it back to the safety of a Dawn colony. Toronto returned to Zezzis IV while fighters from Zezzis VII moved out to screen Alice Springs and her charge. Then there was the question of what to do with the Sergetti colonists on board.
At the same time, West End, Thames and Montreal also engaged in battle, destroying five of the seven Phong cripples from the minefield. Montreal was also able to board and capture the freighter. Thames and West End returned to Zezzis V while Montreal guarded the helpless freighter as they waited for repair.
Alice Springs was going to be a very busy ship for quite a while as the strategy of the Dawn had shifted. Since the mineral shortage precluded building warships, Dawn would acquire them another way.
They would be taken.
March 20th, 2008, 02:22 PM
With the successful test of the new Chaney class boarding ship, fighters were dispatched to the sector and destroyed the ship. Chaney had proceeded to Zezzis and Melbourne proceeded to begin supply runs to the Harvesters in the system. The last of the fighters were built and sent to the Ushphada-Tlilkanthua warp point to guard the system against intruders. Ushphada I began to build the new ice colony ships, designated the Santa Maria class and complete colonizing the remaining planets in the system...
Pantrissa-Sheliak warp point...
Jaguar laid its minefield and returned to Pantrissa III. Sixty mines were backed up by the frigate Dover and the point defense ship Longbow. Next month, Jaguar would add sixty more mines to the field.
The policy of core systems concentrating on infrastructure improvements was beginning to make some headway into the resource shortage, as the stocks seemed to be holding at about 50,000 minerals. Organic and radioactive resources were well above 100,000 and surplus amounts were generated every month. The shipyard at Chazzwazzer IV contributed another Harvester 400 mineral miner this month, and it was sent to an asteroid field that had a reported 272% improvement on mineral availability compared to a standard planet. The field was in the Qornor system, and the Harvester would arrive in two month. The space yard now began construction of an ice colony ship, as a small ice planet with an oxygen atmosphere was in Qornor as well.
The Norak were back.
The controllers monitored their entry from the Fezzran system. It was a seven ship fleet, but no minefield hindered its progress. Despite the initial urge to attack these new ships as a response to the many intelligence thefts by the Norak, the controllers maintained their defensive posture. Thames was sent to Zezzis VIII where only Artemis was guarding the planet. Southampton was still guarding Zezzis IX, while Montreal and Alice Springs joined Toronto at Zezzis IV, which was only one sector from the Norak fleet. Manchester, guarding the Zezzis-Velocitas warp point, was sent to Zezzis V to join West End in holding the colony there. The Ferret spy satellite at Zezzis IV couldn’t detect any orders the Norak fleet had, but the four colonies in the system were well defended.
March 21st, 2008, 03:48 AM
...onboard CDS Toronto...
The Norakian presence in Zezzis was increasing. Two more point defense ships were now in the system. The seven-ship fleet hadn’t moved, but two point defense ships were en route to join them. The spy satellite over Zezzis IV had intercepted their orders and knew both were on their way to join the fleet.
Toronto and Montreal moved out of Zezzis IV’s orbit and made the short two-sector move to intercept the closest point defense ship. The two light cruisers bore down on the Norak ship. It turned to meet the threat, and fired its lone DUC at first one cruiser and then the other. Both cruisers held fire, and as the Norak frigate was turning to open the range, boarding parties from both ships were launched.
Walter Sen was now in command of a boarding party in a war. For the first time, they were going to attempt the capture of a completely undamaged enemy ship. As their boarding pods contacted the hull of the frigate, cutting torches from recessed pockets in the pod sliced into the hull of the target. Sen and his troops assaulted the ship from the port side, while Montreal’s boarders assaulted from the right. The Norak crew were outgunned 4 to 1, and were also engaged with two light cruisers at the time. The battle was quick. 86 of the boarding party were incapacitated, but the ship had been taken. Dawn’s newest member of the fleet took up a position between Montreal and Toronto, and all three ships returned to Zezzis IV.
The arrival of the Norak had other consequences to the plans in Zezzis. Aztec, which was to lay a second minefield at the Zezzis-Lezzari warp point was ordered to Zezzis IV and – if possible – lay a minefield of sixty mines at the Zezzis-Fezzran warp point and stop the Norak incursion. Twelve Norak frigates were now in Zezzis.
Also supporting the move against the Fezzran warp point was Beagle, the cloaked spy ship. Captain Cabrerra would penetrate the warp point, and provide advance notice of what was headed towards Zezzis and remain undetected all the while.
The cargo ship Freightliner also entered Zezzis from Velocitas, but stayed at the warp point under the protection of the mines and the fighters there. The Phong planet Zezzis VII was a tiny rock world with a space yard, supply depot, space port and two research stations. Although she was guarded by a Phong destroyer sporting three DUCs and a point defense ship, the plan was for Manchester and West End, along with fighter support from Zezzis V to take the two ships on and destroy them. Scans revealed the presence of no troops on the planet. The chance to acquire of a space yard in a war zone was too good to pass up...
March 22nd, 2008, 11:31 AM
The Chairman blinked a couple of times. He hated the lights, but they had to be there. People had to see their leader. Chairman Lomax was to deliver another speech on the state of the empire, and the state of the war. Upon cue from the floor director, Lomax began his prepared speech.
“Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for allowing me to take part of your day to speak with you. As you know, we are at war with the empires of Sergetti and Phong in the Zezzis system. Our forces and brave colonists need our support and material in order to bring this conflict to a safe resolution – not only for our empire, but all of the peace-loving peoples of the world. Today, ladies and gentlemen, I offer a ray of hope in ending this unproductive venture.
Yesterday, we received a message from the Sergetti. One of their colony ships was drifting in space. Our repair ship there, Alice Springs, docked and restored their engines and life support.”
Lomax conveniently didn’t mention how the ship got that way, but continued.
“I am happy to report that the Sergetti have reclaimed their ship, and – more importantly – their colonists as well. While we wish we could have done more for the repair of the ship, we hope this provides a demonstration of our benevolence.
As a further demonstration, I am announcing now that all offensive operations against the Sergetti have been terminated. Our forces will still defend themselves, but we do not consider the Sergetti an ‘enemy’.”
He paused for effect. The pause was for the audience watching on monitors around the systems, as no one but the technicians and Lomax himself were in the room.
“I invite any empire that wishes to do so, simply send a message that they wish to live in peace with us. We never wanted war. We will not shrink from our responsibility to defend our military forces, our colonists, or our friends. Having said that, I must also announce that the Abbidon empire, for no reason known to us other than the fact we have established colonies in the Mentocka system, has declared war on us.
We strongly urge the leaders of the Abbidon empire to consider their actions carefully. Do not make the mistake that we will not defend our colonies.
But even with the unwarranted actions of the Abbidon empire, we will not make the first overt act of war with them. We, in fact, reject their declaration and do not recognize that a state of war exists between our empires. Should the Abbidon choose to reinforce their declaration with an overt act of their own, we will have no choice but to respond in kind.
Ladies and gentlemen, we will not start wars. We will not visit atrocities on innocent life forms. We will recognize the right of all life to exist in peace – and we require that right be accorded to us.
Ladies and gentlemen, this war will end, as all wars do. The time and the fashion of the ending is left to our opponents. But peacefully, of through conquest, make no mistake.
We will end this war.
Less than twenty-four hours after that transmission, the mood of the empire surged, and the cry 'We will!' had been taken up by the masses. Enterprising marketing designs of the slogan, some with Captain O’Rourke’s image looking toward the future were now appearing on buildings everywhere. Cadets in training were greeted and treated like heroes themselves, even though all they had done to this point was sign a piece of paper. Production was just a bit higher, and the people seemed to work just a little bit better with each other. The population was galvanizing around the slogan, 'We will'.
Zezzis V war operations center...
With the arrival of Chaney and Freightliner at Zezzis V, the Phong colony at Zezzis VII was ready to be assaulted. The Anous class point defense ship was still in orbit, but the Phong destroyer had left the colony for the Fezzran warp point. Manchester and Chaney would overwhelm the ship, and Freightliner would drop the troops onto the surface of the planet. Nothing more than militia was expected to be in opposition to the assault.
The forces were arrayed, and the order was given. Manchester led the assault, and she fired one salvo of missiles. It was enough to destroy the Phong ship weapons, and Chaney closed in behind her. After two toxic weapon hits, there were only six of the original crew still functional. The ship surrendered in due time, and the three of them returned to Zezzis V. Freightliner, meanwhile launched her troops and followed the ships back to the Dawn base. The battle for Zezzis VII was now in the hands of the ground forces...
...onboard CDS Beagle...
Under her cloak, Beagle slid into the warp point under the cover of a Sergetti colony ship. She arrived in Fezzran and found two Phong planets. Just before they warped in, a message from Alice Springs reported that Montreal and Toronto had captured the Phong destroyer that was guarding Zezzis VII two months ago. Now in the Fezzran system, Cabrerra and his crew had to attend to the task at hand. The Phong would certainly not like the fact that ships they build are beginning to show up in Dawn fleets. Should they find out there was an unarmed ship filled with the latest Dawn technology, right in their own backyard, there would be no mistaking that reaction.
Cabrerra was there to make sure they didn’t find out. They headed three sectors away from the warp point and into a plasma storm, where they uncloaked. The system had two stars, which made solar collectors a good option for the spy ship that has everything. Perhaps if the Dawn could nab that space yard the Phong built back in Zezzis, Cabrerra could wrangle out a deal for collectors for his, um, “freighter”.
In the meantime, there were ships to track. The first Norak ship was another frigate – codenamed “Steelghost” – and was only one sector from warping into Zezzis. A new kind of frigate was 9 sectors away from the warp point.
With their report coded and transmitted, Beagle slipped quietly back into the storm and kept her vigil...
March 22nd, 2008, 06:26 PM
Zezzis V war operations center...
The announcement of the capture of Zezzis VII had lifted the morale all across the empire. With one operation, the Dawn empire had brushed aside the militia there, added a colony with a shipyard (desparately needed in a war zone), a supply depot, two more research centers, and denied the Phong a space port to ship any resources back to their empire. The captured frigate Anous was sent to Zezzis IV, as was the boarding ship Chaney. The captured destroyer was still under repair in space by Alice Springs. The colony immediately began construction of a second minesweeper for the system.
The focus of the empire now turned not to an empire they were at war with – declared war, that is. The Norak empire was blatantly stealing information from the Dawn empire, and now their fleet of thirteen frigates had been stationed one sector away from Zezzis IV and its Dawn colony for over two months. Repeated calls for the Norak empire to move them were unanswered, and the Ferret spy satellites confirmed the orders of ships arriving into Zezzis were to join the fleet and increase their presence. The Dawn colony was unhappy about so many ships so close to them. The Navy was now ready to confront the Norak in Zezzis.
The first order was to mine the Fezzran-Zezzis warp point, and maintain the minefield there. This would close the system to new Norak ships. At the same time, Beagle would penetrate Fezzran and provide intelligence with regard to what was approaching Zezzis from the Fezzran side of the point. Finally, the entire military strength of the system would be brought to bear on the Norak fleet. Once the population felt at ease, the process of colony improvements could begin in earnest. The planners made it a priority not to directly engage the Sergetti. This policy cost the Dawn empire a month, as a Sergetti colony ship was in the Fezzran warp point. With the point now clear of ships, Aztec would lay her mines.
The mines would be an unwelcome surprise for the two destroyers and three frigates of the Norak empire approaching the warp point to Zezzis. Beagle, having penetrated Fezzran found a plasma storm they could call home for the next few months and scan any ships approaching the point. The system appreared to belong to the Phong, as they had two colonies visible. As Beagle took up her vigil, Cabrerra thought of how the Phong would love to get a hold of the sophisticated technology on board his ship. Should they find out there was an unarmed Dawn ship in their system feeding intelligence back to the empire, their reaction would be predictable. Inside the storm and under a protective cloak, however, Cabrerra felt secure that wouldn’t happen. He knew what the “security” guards would do to the crew to prevent their capture, so he was determined not to let it get that far.
Back in Zezzis, Montreal and Toronto cut off an unlucky Norak supply frigate that entered the system at the wrong time. Their boarding crews captured the ship intact, and the now three ships joined the others at Zezzis IV to begin the assault on the Norak fleet.
As the two fleets approached each other, the plan was brutally simple. West End – with the famous Captain O’Rourke, Southampton with Captain Benjamin Harrison, Manchester and Thames would volley no less than eight missiles at one ship at a time. The Norak had a good deal of point defense, which would be reduced as their ships became disabled.
Chaney would lurk in the distance, waiting for the unlucky ship that had no weapons and try to single her out and kill the crew with her biological weapon.
The fighters would be joined by the captured ships and operate on the wings of the fight, crisscrossing strafing runs once the point defense environment was less hostile.
The Norak approached, and the Dawn ships in the center retreated, drawing the enemy toward them. The wings retreated as well, to keep the immediate threat in front of the enemy.
The first salvo or eight missiles made it through the defense and destroyed the first Norak frigate. The Dawn frigates reloaded and waited for the next ship to come into range.
The next target was a Steelghost frigate. It too was fired on with eight missiles. It too, was destroyed after the missiles outlasted the point defense.
Although the Norak had lost two frigates without getting a shot off in return, Captain Harrison wanted the frigates to align so they would all fire simultaneously. With a bit of maneuvering, the four ships were in a line waiting for the next target.
With the Dawn frigates in a tighter formation, a Voidmist point defense ship was the next closest ship. Captain Harrison gave the order to target the frigate and fire when she got within range.
This time, the missiles were synchronized better, but the Voidmist was just as dead.
The battle continued, and the Norak were eliminated. Thames suffered severe damage, and could not return with the others. She stayed in orbit until Alice Springs could get back to her and escort her to a yard for repairs.
The war continued, but the Norak had been removed from Zezzis. A message offering peace was sent to the Sergetti. If they agreed, the focus of the efforts could shift to the security of Mentocka, and the empire could once again prosper...
March 23rd, 2008, 12:07 AM
The Phong on Zezzis VII were at first fearful of their conquerors, but when they survived their first month under the rule of a new empire, they thought there may be hope for them to continue to lead their lives. The one change that was enacted was the demolition of the space port. In its place was a facility that would improve the conditions of the planet. The space yard, supply depot and research stations were untouched, though promises of upgrades were to come. Even the two ships the yard had launched were back in orbit over the planet – under new command, of course – but they were back. Even a Sithrak frigate – once mortal enemies of the Phong – now flew the colors of the Dawn empire and joined the orbiters over the new colony.
The news crews were everywhere, it seemed. The adaptation and acceptance of the empire by this planet’s population was heartening to see. And the corporation’s advertising department would make sure it was seen.
...onboard CDS West End...
Captain O’Rourke was reviewing the supply manifest when her PCS activated. She turned the screen on and Captain Harrison was on the display.
“Katherine, good to see you again!”
The captain of Southampton, and O’Rourkes mentor was on the ship’s display, so O’Rourke knew it wasn’t a social call.
“Captain Harrison, how is everyone on Southampton?”
Try as she might, she couldn’t stop seeing him as ‘Captain’ Harrison.
“We’re doing well, Katherine. It seems as things are finally turning around for us here in Zezzis. But I am calling about a new assignment that was sent out. Check your orders on the secure link.”
O’Rourke automatically keyed her code in, and the Colonial Dawn Empire crest appeared, along with the usual security warnings.
“Where is West End off to now, sir?”
There it was again. ‘Sir’.
“Not West End, Katherine,” Harrison replied. “West End and Southampton. Both of us. We’re going home.”
She had just read the orders when she heard his words.
“Nekkar III? But that’s not…”
Harrison cut her off.
“I know. But you parents are on Nekkar V, and we are authorized a month’s leave. I suspect we will have new ships after that.”
O’Rourke blinked. Leave West End? Apart from her training on Southampton, it – and her crew – was family. Could she simply walk away from them like that?
“I know, Katherine. It’s like walking out on your best friend. But you know the Navy. Southampton and West End are the oldest ships in the fleet. With all of the new equipment and capabilities, we have to stay with the newest and best ships. I know for a fact that we’re needed in Mentocka, and there is rumblings of ships even newer than that ship nobody is supposed to know exists.”
“You mean the Beagle?”
Both of them shared a laugh, and got to the business of getting their crew ready for the voyage home.
Ushphada VII landing pad...
The ship had received clearance to land. The ice colony had just been established. The colonists completed another supply depot, and now the mining freighters would be at full supply every month without Nave assistance. One of the supply ships was landing on Ushphada VII, and the controller understood when the pilot landed too far from the colony dome’s airlock.
“Freighter Ushphada seven bravo, nice try, sir; but you’re 500 meters from the airlock. Can you hover and reposition, over?”
The controller waited for a response.
“Freighter Ushphada seven bravo, this is Ushphada seven control, come in please.”
The controller waited, then his jaw dropped open. He keyed the transmitter.
“Seven bravo, your seal is broken! Sir, your hatch is opening. Seven bravo, you are not, repeat not engaged with the airlock!!”
As if it had a mind of its own, the door slid open, and fresh air filled the freighter. Fresh carbon-dioxide air.
“Ushphada seven control, this is seven bravo. Sorry about that sir. I had to get back into the airlock here. Please standby sir. There is no problem.”
The controller couldn’t figure out what was going on until he saw the first one step out of the ship. It stopped, looked around, and breathed deeply.
It then walked down the ramp and was followed by others.
Just then the door of the control room opened, and the supervisor, followed by three men wearing Intelligence Directorate uniforms came in, along with another man in civilian clothes. The man in civilian clothes politely asked for the controller to stand aside.
Still in a daze as to what was going on, the controller slowly stood up, and looked from the ship, to the men, and back to the ship. Meanwhile, the man now at the communication link spoke something into the microphone that the controller, or anyone else for that matter, didn’t understand.
What the confused controller was watching, indeed what the empire was seeing was the first Phong migrants to Ushphada. And from their reaction, they were ecstatic to be on a world where the atmosphere was so pure.
The controller’s face was a microcosm for the feelings of an entire empire. It was going to be a new way of life.
...onboard CDS Beagle...
While not a ship of war, per se (Beagle had no weapons at all), Cabrerra learned that his ship was probably the most dangerous in the fleet. He poked his ship - still cloaked - out of the storm at the predetermined time and received a microburst transmission from the Fezzran-Zezzis warp point. To anyone else receiving it, the transmission seemed to be garbled noise. The transmission held order updates and requests for information, along with classified messages for the security staff that Cabrerra didn't have access to.
There was one more piece of information. Cabrerra warned that five new Norak warships were on their way into Zezzis. He read the report that five Norak warships were destroyed by a minefield at the warp point. There were no survivors.
Cabrerra thought about that for a second and slipped the ship that didn't exist back into the plasma storm.
(note: Wow - the past couple of turns have taken "forever"! So much going on, and I'm afraid I keep missing things to work into the storyline. (I had to edit to include the Norak minefield encounter I forgot to add! Now, if the Sergetti will get the hint and make peace already! sheesh!...)
March 23rd, 2008, 01:03 PM
Pantrissa-Sheliak warp point...
The minelayer Jaguar was making another run to the warp point. She carried 43 more mines to deploy there. The frigate Dover and point defense ship Longbow were already there, on defense. So far, they kept their watch in relative obscurity. The shimmering of the warp point changed all of that in an instant.
The signature of the ship read Norak, but it was destroyed by the minefield. Jaguar immediately deployed her mines on arrival and turned back toward the planets for more. The back door to the Dawn empire had just been found. Fortunately, it was bolted shut.
...onboard CDS Beagle
The orders were changed. With the Pantrissa minefield incident, Beagle was ordered to return to Pantrissa along the expected route the Norak had taken. Turning away from Zezzis, Cabrerra started to shadow a Norak frigate and found a warp point out of Fezzran that was being used by the Norak ships. He entered, and found himself in the Lacerta system. Beagle entered the system and right past the Norak patrol ship on guard at the warp point. The patrol ship never knew they were there. He cleared the warp point by two sectors and found a Norak colony. Scans showed a shipyard, along with a religious shrine of some type. Nine research stations were also there. Cabrerra noted that Lacerta connected with Sheliak, which connected with Pantrissa. Beagle had just found the back door as well...
Zezzis-Lezzari warp point...
The new minelayer CDS Texcoco had just finished laying her first field. The Dawn now had two minelayers in the system, with Aztec maintaining the field at the Zezzis-Fezzran warp point. The warp point there had 93 mines, with more on the way. The Zezzis-Lezzari warp point had 47 mines protecting it, with more on the way as well. Also in the system the shipyard at Zezzis VII had repaired Toronto and the new boarding ship CDS Karloff. Toronto was getting an upgrade as well. The Canada class wold no longer carry boarding troops, but would be equipped with a new solar sail, as well as armor that could actually reflect some of the energy of weapon fire back out into space. She also was trading in 30kT of armor for a third anti-photon cannon. The former Phong destroyer was the last damaged ship there. The population had accepted the new rulers so well that Freightliner lifted the occupying troops and fighters off and plans were made to take the radioactive resource mining colony – the last Phong colony in Zezzis.
...onboard CDS Leeds...
The duty officer had to be sure.
“Mr. Chase, are you sure of the count? No ghosts or echoes? There can’t be that many!”
Sam Chase was too busy to be annoyed at the lieutenant for questioning his report. He was trying to classify the targets that just appeared on the display.
“Sir”, in an even of a voice as he could manage – “There are twenty-three Abbidon warships headed for us. I will have their classifications shortly, but they are headed right for us. And they are in a big hurry about it, sir.”
Lomax was furious. After reading the report of the Abbidon war fleet's arrival in Mentocka he realized he underestimated the Abbidon.
“Explain to me again, why weren’t mines already deployed? We barely have enough ships in the system for observation. What are expected to defend the colonists with?” He looked at the Defense minister.
“We have Leeds, Northampton, Sniper, and the new boarding ship Lugosi. The repair ship Melbourne there as well.” The Defense minister didn’t sound too enthusiastic.
Rita Edwards spoke next.
“Mr. Chairman, we at least know where they are headed. Communication intercepts put them on a direct course with Mentocka VIII. They plan to attack it. Very soon. I have reports that the colonists are trying to build mines, but unless the Abbidon change their orders, they won’t be ready in time.”
Defense again spoke, more forcefully this time.
“We will defend Mentocka VIII, Mr. Chairman. We will drive them off!”
The Chairman was silent for a long time before he next spoke.
“No. The ships we have are not capable of protecting the colonists from an attack force like this. If we defend the colonies and lose the ships, the way into Ushphada and even Praxis is wide open. All that stands in their way would be a handful of fighters and some mining ships. Minister, bring the fleet in Mentocka back to the Ushphada-Tilikanthua warp point.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, I feel as bad about this as you do. If the colonies in Mentocka survive somehow, they certainly won’t have us to thank for it. But I cannot risk our core for two planets. I won’t bore you with the speech of the ‘greater good’. And don’t be concerned with blame.
The blame is mine.”
Now, all the company had to do was tell the rest of its people that 100 million of them were just labeled "expendable"...
March 23rd, 2008, 06:13 PM
...onboard CDS Leeds...
The captain was called to the bridge. In his hand he held the message from the Navy ordering the withdraw.
“We have been ordered to withdraw to Ushphada. We have been ordered to abandon the colonists to their fate. Over 100 million citizens with one weapon platform between them and oblivion.”
Sam Chase didn’t necessarily agree with the order either, but all saw the logic of it. Even if they did successfully engage that many ships, they were limited with the number of missile salvos they had on board. The Abbidon surely had numerous point defense ships scattered throughout their fleet that would further reduce the effectiveness of the Dawn frigates. The captain spoke again.
“I will not comply with these orders.”
The bridge crew looked at each other. Their decision was unanimous. They would stay.
Well, almost all of them would stay.
The captain spoke again.
“While I can make the decision for myself, and recognize your decision as officers in the fleet, I cannot speak for everyone. We are therefore transferring the remainder of the crew to Melbourne for transport back to Ushphada. Mr. Chase? Will you please accompany them?”
Sam Chase was stunned.
“Sir! I respectfully request to stay on board! Sir!”
The captain shook his head.
“Thank you Mr. Chase, but we have the picture of what we are facing. I won’t need a sensor officer to tell me the enemy is coming for me.” He smiled. “We’ll be able to see them just fine, Sam. Now do me the favor of escorting the men and women to safety. And Lieutenant Chase?”
Sam Chase stood at attention.
“Make sure they spell our names right.”
Chase saluted and was granted permission to leave the bridge. He said nothing on the shuttle to Melbourne, nor on the way back to Ushphada.
...onboard CDS Leeds...
The Abbidon did slightly change their orders. Only sixteen of the tweny-three ships attacked Mentocka VIII. Twenty seconds into the engagement, Leeds fired two missiles at the first Abbidon frigate. Leeds then turned to run parallel with the firing arcs of the enemy ships. The captain wasn’t a fool. He knew his – and the colony’s – only chance at survival was to buy them one month to get a minefield in place. He willed the missiles to their target. The missiles did well, and the first frigate lost 75% of its armor. Five seconds later, the second salvo of missiles was away. They also did well, and the lead frigate had lost one engine and all of its armor. Leeds concentrated on the wounded Abbidon and fired her third salvo. This time, the Abbidon point defense performed better and the lead frigate took no more damage. The lead elements of the fleet were less than 250km from the planet.
On her fourth salvo, Leeds’ missiles penetrated the point defense of the Abbidon, and her target was struck. Explosions ripped the Abbidon frigate, and she was helpless, burning with no engines or weapons. The other fifteen ships moved right past her and approached within 150km of the planet. The Abbidon traded one ship for putting Leeds into a corner. There would be no more fancy maneuvering. The captain on Leeds tried to skim the planet and draw the Abbidon into the range of the weapon platform that would begin to engage at 110km.
At 115km away from the planet, the new lead ship was an Abbidon missile frigate. She was the new target for Leeds, who fired salvo number five. The captain knew he had fifteen shots left, then he would become a spectator.
At 40 seconds into the battle, the Hercules weapon platform fired its two anti-proton beams and hit the Abbidon frigate, stripping away 18% of its armor.
At 42 seconds into the battle, the missiles from Leeds clawed through the point defense and stripped another twenty percent of armor away. The wounded frigate also launched its missile, and the Hercules immediately fired a flak cannon burst at it.
The Abbidon missile was destroyed, and the missile frigate took another hit from the anti-photon cannons, along with a pair of hits from meson blasters. It had only about fifteen percent of its armor left. A second Abbidon frigate was now in range and it also fired a missile, responded to again by the flak cannon of the Hercules.
The missile frigate was hit by more beams and blasters, and was disarmed. The crew on the Hercules immediately targeted the next frigate. Two more frigates were now in range and fired.
More and more frigates began to fire on the planet, and DUCs started to rain down onto the planet’s surface. The Hercules was shielded, and her shields were holding, but other structures were beginning to take damage.
At fifty-six seconds into the battle, the Leeds was wounded by DUC fire, and her last act was to ram an Abbidon frigate that was just about to launch a missile. The Abbidon survived, but it was disarmed. Leeds disappeared in a violent explosion.
At one minute and fifteen seconds into the battle, the Abbidon finally broke through the Hercules weapon platform and disarmed it. There was now nothing standing in the way of Mentocka VIII and total annihilation. Of the sixteen ships the Abbidon attacked with, two were badly damaged and six were destroyed. The Dawn empire had lost the frigate Leeds and their first planet. The colonists on Mentocka VII had the time to complete and launch their minefield. Heartened by the performance of the Hercules V weapon platforms, they began construction in earnest on more of them. The research department had improved the shielding and range of the anti-photon cannon, and these improvements were incorporated as the people on Mentocka VII fought desperately for the right to exist...
Usphada-Tilikanthua warp point...
The fighters were almost fully supplied. Twenty-eight of them patrolled the warp point. They knew what was happening on the other side of the Tilikanthua system. They knew also the five ship fleet was due back in at any time.
But not this early.
“Eagle lead, this is Eagle seventeen. Activity at the point. Sensors show a ship coming in.”
“Eagle lead, Eagle twenty. Confirmed. Something is coming through now.”
The leader of the fighters now had to decide. Call Ushphada control, wait and see what materialized, or open fire. He decided to hedge his bets and do all three.
“Eagles, open fire. Say again – open fire. The ship is not, repeat not friendly.”
With the amount of fighters at the warp point, they would fire, circle as their weapons recharged, and fire again. Meanwhile, the fighters in the second rank would be firing as the first rank recharged their beams, and so on. While this ballet was playing out, the call to Ushphada control confirmed the fleet was not due in until next week.
Whatever was coming through was doing so at their own risk.
As it turned out, the ship that almost materialized was a Cue Cappa frigate. The fighters destroyed it in good order. Only two fighters reported damage. Later that week, the fleet did arrive. Melbourne and Sniper remained at the point. Sam Chase transferred the remnants of the Leeds’ crew to Northampton as both they and Lugosi headed for the space yard at Ushphada I. There, Chase would relate the story about how Leeds had engine anomalies and could not warp out of Mentocka. The intelligence officer who was debriefing Chase told him that Leeds was reported destroyed as was the colony at Mentocka VIII.
Chase made sure they spelled the names right...
Ushphada I space yard...
The refit was underway for both ships. Lugosi was being converted into a stealth ship. Northampton was refitting into the next generation of England frigates. This time there was a major shift in policy, as missiles were being replaced on the frigates by anti-photon beams. Northampton would get a level 6 shield and a level 2 shield regenerator. She also was fitted for a solar collector and a solar sail. Her speed in simulation trials was 17km/sec, and with three anti-photon beams her ability to cause harm was impressive. No longer would the empire rely on ordinance weapons to keep the enemy at length.
Ushphada-Tilikanthua warp point...
Nine more fighters joined the twenty-eight already there. There were five more just one sector away, and the space yard at Ushphada I was about to commission a minelayer. The colonists, both Terran and Phong, on Ushphada VII had twenty-four mines ready to be loaded and would have twenty-four more next month. This warp point was to become the point to hold and preserve the integrity of the Ushphada system and the Dawn Empire.
...onboard CDS Beagle...
Two sectors away from the Lacerta-Sheliak warp point, Cabrerra found a medium gas-giant planet with oxygen atmosphere. In a more benign time, Dawn might have negotiated to colonize it, but not today. Cabrerra saw an Eee survey ship in Lacerta, and included that into his report. He had one more system to jump through unnoticed before he would be home...
The operation to remove the last Phong colony in Zezzis had begun. The troops and fighters that occupied successfully Zezzis VII now would fight for control at Zezzis I. This time, there were actual ground forces to overcome along with militia, but they had been softened up with a barrage of DUC from space. The captured Phong and Sithrak frigates performed the bombardment. Damage to the radioactive extraction facilities was light, and – should the colony fall into Dawn hands – would be quickly repaired. On Zezzis VII; Southampton, West End and Karloff were being refit as England IX frigates. The outcry against toxic weapon usage was heard, and the military deemed the project closed. It wasn’t closed due to the public outcry, but rather the frustration of not being able to upgrade the captured ships. Toronto had completed her upgrade, and Montreal moved to the Phong shipyard to await her turn...
March 23rd, 2008, 10:11 PM
The people on the planet didn’t know what had granted them an extra month of existence, but they didn’t complain. There was no doubt, however, that the Abbidon and the Cue Cappa were allied against Dawn. Both empires had ships in orbit around the now dead Mentocka VIII. The people didn’t waste time on politics, however. They were all working on getting a third weapon platform built. All they could hope for was just one more day – followed by just one more day...
The system was serving as a waypoint to Ushphada. From Praxis itself came a new frigate – CDS Cardiff. She was the last of the improved missile frigates, and would stop at Ushphada I to receive her new weapons. From Nekkar III came the light cruiser Vancouver. And from Haphik came a satellite layer, CDS Shelly. All were headed to Ushphada. All were going to war...
Ushphada-Tilikanthua warp point...
A Cue Cappa destroyer had tried to enter the warp point, only to find even more fighters waiting for it. Although it lasted a bit longer, it too was destroyed. Fifty-two fighters now guarded the point. CDS Conquistador, the new minelayer would arrive with a load of forty mines, and would shuttle between Ushphada VII and the warp point to seal it off. From the shipyard at Ushphada I came the Northampton and Lugosi – the latter had launched still with damage repair crews onboard. Melbourne would finish the repairs at the point itself. Sniper returned to the space yard to upgrade with new shields and a new shield regenerator. She would return to the point soon.
Pantrissa V space yard...
A new frigate was also receiving an updated weapon package. CDS Weymouth was launched and headed right back to the yard for the anti-photon beam upgrade. Also in the yard was another of the new frigates.
...onboard CDS Beagle...
Captain Cabrerra would be back in Pantrissa next month. His ship would get a refit, and his crew would get a leave – which for most of them would be more training on new systems. Cabrerra doubted a man or woman among them had ever just let themselves go with a good bottle. From what he could tell, they never were in groups of more than two or three, and that was always about some technical matter or other.
“It takes all types,” he thought.
Commander Katherine O’Rourke had returned from leave. The promotion was welcome, but the attention was not. Still, she was expected to represent the forces defending the empire in the best manner possible. So she smiled, and said the right things – about how she wished there could be a different way to resolve the current conflict – she was briefed to not use the “w” word with civilians – and how she was proud to serve the people of the empire and its friends. She was also a bit sad to leave the West End, but was quick to note that the younger captain now in charge of her had her full support as well as her best wishes for successful voyages. Finally, she was asked about how she felt that members of the Phong, a race that had killed Terrans, were now living side by side with us on three of our planets – and wasn’t that just a bit of a slap in the face?
The reporter was about to be whisked away when Katherine asked them to let the reporter stay so she could answer.
“I am saddened by the loss of life – any life. It may seem strange to have that sentiment and wear this uniform, but the truth is that I hope to prevent the loss of life as an officer in the fleet. It is good to see that once enemies can work and live together as friends. I am also proud of the steps these Phong have taken in approaching us to live in peace. With their empire still officially opposed to us, their decision to live among us could not have been easy.”
She also visited the monument erected in memory of the Leeds and the colonists of Mentocka VIII. A small flame burned there, and she laid a wreath while the flashbulbs went off. As she turned to leave she couldn’t help but notice the groundskeeper clearing the brush away from an area about the right size for another block of granite…
Back in the headquarters, O’Rourke was meeting with now Admiral Harrison. His jump in rank was unprecedented, but there was a new ship and fleet tactics school, and he was to be its commander. At least O’Rourke was going back out into space.
“I could have taken Vancouver for you, Admiral. My leave has been over for a while now. I don’t mind the time here, but there is a war on. Sir.”
“You are right, Katherine. There is a war on. And your time here hasn’t been all about your relaxation, although I’m sure it has gotten you to want to get out of here that much quicker.”
O’Rourke blushed, and protested.
“Admiral I didn’t mean to give the impression that…”
Harrison held up his hand.
“Don’t apologize, Commander. I’d trade places with you in a minute if I could. Your little sightseeing tours here have been of immense value to us – and the empire. Of course, I do have an advantage of knowing a piece of information you don’t.”
Katherine was perplexed. Her face showed it.
“Come with me, Commander. I want you to meet your new ship.”
They were joined by a small group of men and women and went into a briefing room...
(edit: Hmm, seems I forgot to give the resolution of the Zezzis I operation. The Dawn took over the colony, and the damage to the radiation extraction facilities is being repaired. The entire colony should be up to full capacity within a couple of months.)
March 25th, 2008, 10:38 AM
Once again, the colonists were spared having to defend their lives. With three weapon platforms now online the colony switched to building and launching more mines in their planet’s orbit. There was still no word from the fleet, and some of the colonists began to wonder if they on their own, and whether or not choosing to live under Abbidon rule wouldn’t be better than annihilation...
...onboard CDS Lugosi...
The second of the Dawn empire’s cloaked ships took up a position two sectors away from the Tilikanthua-Mentocka warp point. Assuming no one came through on their way to Ushphada, Lugosi would warp into Mentocka and cloak. Her mission would be to feed reports of the Abbidon and Cue Cappa forces and their intentions...
Ushphada-Tilikanthua warp point...
Seventy-two fighters now patrolled the warp point. They were supported by Northampton and Sniper, with her newly upgraded shields and regenerators. Also making her initial visit to the warp point was Conquistador, who stayed long enough to lay forty-seven mines. She was already on the way back from Ushphada VII with twenty-four more...
...onboard CDS Shelly...
The system would switch from producing fighters to producing satellites. Ushphada III would build the first. A new generation of Tripwire satellites, it would have an anti-photon cannon on a large mount. It would also be shielded, with its own regenerator. The initial deployment would be on the Tilikanthua side of the Ushphada-Tilikanthua warp point to give notice of incoming vessels...
Ushphada space yard...
The light cruiser Vancouver and the new frigate Cardiff were receiving upgrades before joining Northampton at the warp point. There was just one more piece of the puzzle required for the ships of the Dawn empire to return to Mentocka...
...onboard CDS Beagle...
Captain Cabrerra was happy to see Dawn space again. He celebrated the first successful voyage of the Beagle with a toast of the Sithrak ale left to him upon his “ascension” to the captaincy of the Beagle. He de-cloaked well after clearing the warp point to avoid any mistakes in identity. Beagle was getting some new technology on this stopover.
At the same time Beagle was headed into the yard for a refit, the first of the new generation frigates, CDS Weymouth, had completed her weapon upgrade and joined the ships at the Sheliak warp point. The frigate Dover and the point defense ship Longbow left the warp point for refits of their own...
The captured Phong space yard was working overtime. Its repair crews, along with the recently arrived Alice Springs, were completing upgrades on six ships. Both Artemis and Bowhunter were receiving the latest shields and shield regenerators, and weapon upgrades were underway for Montreal, Southampton, West End, and the Chaney - who was having her toxic injectors removed and was being refit as a standard England class frigate. She was renamed Dunwich. The other toxic injector ship, Karloff, had just completed its update and was back at Zezzis IV. She had been renamed Norwich. And while all of this ship work was being accomplished, the space yard was being modernized and brought up to the same standards as Dawn homeworld space yards.
At Zezzis I, life was beginning to return to normal for the Phong now under Dawn rule. One of the damaged radioactive extraction facilities was already repaired. If this rate of acceptance continued, the occupying forces could be removed fairly soon.
At the warp points to Fezzran and Lezzari, the minefields were complete. 185 mines guarded the point to Fezzran and the Norak/Phong system there, while 130 mines guarded the Lezzari system, where the Abbidon tried to penetrate the system. Mine production was halted, and – for the first time since the war started, the planets began to build non-military improvements. The Sergetti were still in the system with their three colonies, but with seventeen Dawn ships now in Zezzis with the Sergetti, the risk was slight that the Sergetti would try anything, especially since the three colonies were locked inside the mined warp points and essentially on their own.
Nekkar III shipyard facility...
She almost forgot there was ever a ship called West End.
The ship she was looking at was that impressive. Christened Bulldog, the idea had been put forth years ago before the accident at Praxis II. The war with the Sergetti and now Phong and Abbidon had slowed the project down some, but not completely halted it.
The ship was a cruiser, and dwarfed her predecessor, the Canada class light cruisers. With three shields, a regenerator, a solar sail, ECM, and five anti-photon weapons, the class was aptly named.
Katherine O’Rourke would be in command of the first of these new ships. It would be undergoing trials for the next month, but it would be ready to head into Ushphada and be the centerpiece of the Dawn’s return to Mentocka. In the meantime, she had to endure another round of media sessions and questions, but this time it wasn’t as bad. Harrison thought it was because she was handling the media better, but O’Rourke knew the real reason.
She was returning to space...
March 25th, 2008, 02:05 PM
...onboard CDS Bulldog...
The new ship definitely wasn’t as fast as her old frigate. Commander O’Rourke was still able to get used to the increased firepower, however. En route to Ushphada, there were already upgrades to be made in shields and weapon ranging. The anticipated time to transit to Ushphada, upgrade, and transit to Mentocka was about six months. If the colonists there could hold on that long, the Dawn should be able to reclaim their holdings in that system...
...onboard CDS Shelly...
The new Tripwire was launched and performing fine. The next step was to provoke the Abbidon a bit by launching the satellite just inside the Tilikanthua-Mentocka warp point, and having Shelly warp back out and return to Ushphada as fast as possible. The idea was to have the Abbidon think the satellite is monitoring the Mentocka system, and see if they would move to destroy it.
What the Abbidon, Cue Cappa, or even the stranded colonists on Mentocka VII didn't know was that they were already under observation...
...onboard CDS Lugosi...
The cloaked ship operated like a thief in the night. She was in her element - directly in the middle of enemy forces and planets. All she had to do was listen. The technicians got to work. There was a lot to analyze, and the report was transmitted back through the warp point, relayed by the Tripwire in the Tilikanthua system, and back to Ushphada I where overall control of the operations against the Abbidon and Cue Cappa were being coordinated:
Mentocka Status Report
Abbidon forces –
Planet Mentocka VI: population of 335 million. Space port- ship yard - supply depot - mineral mining facility. Ships in orbit: 3 Hoised destroyers (each with 2 telekinetic thought projection weapons, six engines, one level four combat sensor and 560kt of armor. Also has 550kt of supply space). One damaged repair ship also in orbit
Planet Mentocka VIII: not colonized. Three severely damaged frigates in orbit
Fleet of nineteen ships (designated by Abbidon as “fleet 3”) composed of seventeen frigates and two destroyers eleven sectors away from Tilikanthua warp point. All ships apparently undamaged.
Single ship classification Aiah frigate (single telekinetic projector weapon, 1650kt supply space, 640kt of armor, one basic level three sensor). Intercepted orders direct ship to join fleet 3.
Cue Cappa forces
One destroyer (classification Gar-ineem, two level 2 depleted uranium cannons – DUC – and one level 2 point defense cannon. 220 units of ordinance detected. Six engines. 320kt of armor) two sectors from Tilikanthua warp point. Intercepted orders direct ship to “survey Ushphada system”. Anticipated arrival Ushphada two months.
Second Gar-ineem destroyer eight sectors away from Tilikanthua warp point, intercepted orders direct ship to “move to Ushpada coordinates 10,-2, w*** (cannot decode further). Anticipated arrival Ushphada three months.
Two planets with minimal satellite protection.
Additional item: Insertion complete
End of report.
Ushphada I operations center...
The military officers reviewed the force composition data and made their plans. The additional item was of interest to a single man in the room, wearing a black uniform. He relayed the message to Nekkar III...
March 26th, 2008, 03:26 AM
The shuttle landed hard. The fact that a shuttle landed here at all was, amazingly, no cause for alarm to the colonists.
Throughout the war the mercenary pilots that operated outside of any empire association were be used as couriers, spies, and assassins by those who didn’t want to leave a direct trail back to themselves.
This shuttle had the plain markings of a privateer – someone who would trade in supplies from one colony to the next. The landing skid of this shuttle bent on landing, and would not be able to properly retract on take-off again. The pilot had extricated himself from the ship, and offered to pay for the repair parts with a large bonus on his next contract shipment. To his dismay, the people on this particular planet needed labor more than contract bonuses. He would be able to get his parts, but only after participating in the creation of mines and weapon platforms for the defense of the planet.
The pilot protested, but he needed to get the parts.
He lamented that this wasn’t his war, but he needed to get the parts.
He explained that he needed to make other contracts and couldn’t wait on this planet, but...
He needed to get the parts.
Finally, Ed Jefferies “reluctantly” agreed to work for the defenders of Mentocka VII...
...onboard CDS Lugosi...
The technicians monitored the movement of the Abbidon fleet. Nine ships now were on the way to a point two sectors from Mentocka VII. There were six destroyers, two cargo ships, and – most disturbing of all – a troop transport with 46 units of ground troops onboard. It seemed the Abbidon were trying to take the planet without destroying any of the facilities, unaware they had already been destroyed by the colonists themselves to conserve supplies. The colonists, along with Mr. Jefferies, began to construct fighters from abandoned shuttles. The mines should help prevent the ships from breaking through, and there were three weapon platforms backing them up, but fighters on the ground would be the last line of defense...
...onboard CDS Shelly...
The ship had just enough time to make a nearby asteroid field and deploy her satellite. She was sure to draw an angry response from the Abbidon, but the captain was confident in his ability to run away from trouble. Besides, the satellite might get a lucky shot in, or the Abbidon might have an unlucky encounter with an asteroid. Either way, the satellite was bait. Would it be enough to attract the Abbidon and buy the colony another month?
...onboard CDS Beagle...
She was back after a month in Pantrissa. A new sensor array augmented the one already in use. This one was a shorter range, but more sophisticated. It could find detail twice as good as the primary sensor. Also onboard was one of the solar collectors Cabrerra wanted to get back in Zezzis, as well as a solar sail. Beagle’s orders were to develop as much intelligence on the Norak as possible.
March 27th, 2008, 02:52 AM
...high orbit over Mentocka VIII
Ed Jefferies climbed into his cockpit. It turned out his “bad” shuttle landing ski wasn’t really that bad after all. The day after he was assigned to working on constructing mines for orbital defense, he managed to get a chance to speak to the colony leader, and revealed his true identity to him. Still doubtful of his reason for being on the colony, the colony leader listened as Jefferies explained the positions of the Abbidon and Cue Cappa in this system, and managed to not declare him totally insane when Jefferies had stated the empire would have fleet ships back into the system in less than three months. Jefferies finally won them over to him when he had their ground control link to a Tripwire satellite that was in orbit. The controllers patiently explained to him that there were no satellites launched, to which Jefferies agreed, and had them try to link up anyway. To their amazement, their sensor array started downloading data from locations nine sectors away.
About that time, CDS Shelly made contact with the colonists and reported that the Tripwire was in place. Since the Abbidon didn’t take the bait and attack Shelly or her satellite, the Tripwire was re-launched over Mentocka VII. Jefferies story became not only believable, but feasible. The suggestion to build copies of Jefferies “shuttle” was approved. Only four more could be built but that would be enough for now. Jefferies then suggested that the colony start to build a space yard in anticipation of the fleet’s return. Construction began almost at once.
Now in space with his four wingmen, Jefferies settled into orbit over Mentocka VII and found what he was looking for. Three Abbidon frigates, still severely damaged from their battle with Leeds and the weapon platform on Mentocka VIII were awaiting a repair ship, which happened to be on the way to them. The five fighters attacked. One frigate, although badly wounded, still had an active point defense battery, and one of the fighters lost 91% of its shields before the frigate was destroyed. The second frigate was completely helpless and easy prey for the fighters. The third frigate had no weapons, but had engines, and was able to limp out of the sector, but the fighters pursued it into the next sector, chased it down, and killed their third ship of the mission. There were more Abbidon ships, including the repair ship that was en route to Mentocka VII to repair the now non-existent frigates, but it was guarded by a very un-damaged destroyer, so the fighters returned to the safety of Mentocka VII.
The Abbidon had just been reminded that war was a dangerous business. While a jolt for the Abbidon, the colonists on Mentocka VII were ecstatic. In one mission, they had evolved from targets to opponents – a very big difference indeed.
Zezzis V operation center…
The word was passed on to the ships in the sector. The time had come for the Sergetti war to end. The Sergetti had continually refused overtures of peace, including one after their colony ship was returned to them. The empire had been patient, but the time for patience had ended. Dawn could not keep a fleet in Zezzis while waiting for the leaders of the Sergetti to see that a cessation of hostilities was the only logical move. They were the only two empires in the system, and exits out of the system were virtually walled off with Dawn mines. The Sergetti had only four planets in the system, and continually demanded the Dawn to abandon its colonies and leave the system. That would not happen, and the decision was made to restore offensive operations against the Sergetti. The speechwriters would have something for the Chairman back at Nekkar III to read to the population about the “greater good” of the move and the unwillingness of the leaders of the Sergetti not seeing the practical solution. All of which might sound noble, but the bottom line was that the war against the Sergetti was about to get a whole lot hotter.
The mission was to eliminate ships, fighters, troops and weapon platforms before using fighters and troops to overwhelm the remaining militia forces. Every effort would be made to not injure colonists of the worlds, nor destroy any current infrastructure. The first stop was Zezzis VI, a small rock world one sector away from the Dawn colony on Zezzis V. The Sergetti colony had twenty fighter in orbit. The captured Phong and Sithrak frigates left Zezzis I and returned to Zezzis V, killing the returned Sergetti colony ship on their way back. Together with Montreal, they engaged the fighters on Zezzis VI. Twenty more fighters launched in response, and the forty fighters and three ships squared off. The Phong frigate was lost to enemy fire, and Montreal was on the verge of taking armor damage when the tide turned. Montreal’s four anti-photon cannon, flak cannon; backed up by the Sithrak PDC were able to destroy all of the fighters. There were no military forces left guarding the planet.
Similar operations were carried out at the other Sergetti planets in the system. At Sergetti XI, two frigates and a freighter were destroyed by Toronto, Norwich, Manchester and Thames, with 36 fighters in a ground attack role. Of the over 90 ground troops at Sergetti XI, only seven survived the ensuing bombardment. They, along with any militia were all that stood between Dawn and the Sergetti homeworld. Overall, the opening move of the Dawn assault resulted in two frigates, two colony ships and a freighter destroyed with over 100 fighters and 100 troops destroyed as well.
The only causality the Dawn suffered was a captured Phong frigate that fell to fighters. Four Sergetti worlds were now wide open to invasion...
...onboard CDS Beagle...
Cabrerra watched the Norak Coldwolf frigate approach the warp point. Always a moment of apprehension as the fear that somehow, the enemy may have spotted them; yet they always remained undetected. The Norak frigate would be in for a rude surprise if it tried to enter Pantrissa. Beagle headed deeper into the system, and began to gather intelligence on the empire that had made a living stealing the same thing from the Dawn empire...
March 28th, 2008, 02:06 AM
The fighters arrived on the planet, and found enough militia units that they had to abandon their attempt to take the planet with a quick strike. Troops would have to be used. They would still try and avoid civilian or infrastructure damage, but the strategy had changed somewhat. Freightliner was in the system at the Velocitas-Zezzis warp point. She went to Zezzis VI and unloaded 38 troops and 5 fighters on the planet. Zezzis was a small mining colony, and there would be little opposition expected. This would be the last operation for the current troops, for plans were already underway to increase the strength of the ground forces to take on larger colonies and their large number of militia.
The Terrans were leaving. That was actually good news for the empire.
As on Ushphada VII, Phong colonists arrived on the planet and began their lives as Dawn citizens. As on Ushphada VII, they thrived in the carbon dioxide atmosphere that the humans could not breathe. While the war had prevented the ship yard in Ushphada from building cargo ships, Sirius and Samora had built one cargo ship each. Both headed to Sirius VIII and the humans left the domed colony and were now on board the cargo ships Adams and Jefferson, back to Sirius V and the oxygen atmosphere there.
With the Terrans gone, the Phong could utilize the planet’s space to its full potential. Sirius VIII would now support two and a half billion lives that breathed carbon dioxide. The same was happening at Chazzwazzer IX. There were now two planets in the empire that supported only Phong colonists.
Onboard CDS Lugosi
Still cloaked, the stealth ship noted the approach of the Cue Cappa fleet. Nine ships were scanned, and their orders were to attack the colony at Mentocka VII. Apparently, the fighter raid last month woke up the Abbidon and Cue Cappa to the fact that the human colony was still a threat and needed to be obliterated. The technicians on the bridge took note of the ships: two repair ships, one troop transport, one frigate, one point defense ship and four destroyers. This fleet was eight sectors away from the humans and could reach them next month. Six sectors behind the first fleet was a second Cue Cappa fleet of six ships: three point-defense ships, one repair ship and two destroyers. Lugosi had moved directly in-between the fleets and transmitted the information back to Mentocka VII.
Mentocka VII ground control
The four ships orbiting the Abbidon colony on Mentocka VI were a concern – there were only two sectors away – but one of the four was a colony ship, another was a repair ship, the third was a damaged frigate, and the fourth was the repair ship’s escort, a destroyer. The controllers also saw the nine-ship Cue Cappa fleet, but did not understand how they could see even further than their satellite’s range. Mr. Jefferies simply told them he had “friends” in space providing the information. The colonists knew Mr. Jefferies was an intelligence officer, but couldn’t possibly fathom who – or what – his “friends” were. But even that had to be put aside when the controller interrupted their thoughts.
“New contact! Six ships now in range. Position is at –10,-2.”
The senior controller made the next observation.
“That’s the warp point to Tilikanthua! They’re behind us!?”
The first controller spoke up.
“Yes sir, readings indicate four frigates, a destroyer, and something larger…”
The controller’s voice then changed measurably.
“Sir, they’re hailing us! They’re ours!”
Fear changed to joy as they watched the ships warp into the system. They were the frigates Northampton, Cardiff, North Weald, and Portsmouth. The veteran Sniper was also in the fleet, as well as the light cruiser Vancouver. Their first stop was Mentocka VI and the four ships there. The new Dawn ships eliminated their only real opposition – the destroyer – in short order. The frigate, repair ship and colony ship were also destroyed. Just as quickly, the Dawn ships then headed into space, leaving Sniper behind to blockade the planet, to meet the Cue Cappa fleet of nine ships.
Mentocka system location 0,-2
The five Dawn ships encountered the Cue Cappa fleet close to the sun in the system. They closed on the back of the enemy V formation. While the freighters ran, the six combat ships turned to meet the Dawn ships. The first target was the point defense destroyer, whose three PDCs were useless against ships that carried anti-photon beams. Cardiff was in range first, and scored three hits. Even at maximum range, the enemy ship lost 25% of its armor. Portsmouth fired and also scored three hits, and the enemy’s armor was less than half when it finally fired its single DUC at Cardiff and hit. Cardiff’s shields absorbed the hit, and North Weald now fired, scoring only one hit, but reducing the enemy armor to 38%. Northampton fired, and Portsmouth fired again. The enemy had now lost all of its armor, and was starting to take system damage. It fired again and missed, which proved to be its last offensive act as it took four more hits and had its cannon destroyed. The five Dawn ships now targeted the next ship in the formation – a destroyer with two telekinetic projectors, but whose range was less than half of the beam weapons of the Dawn ships. The five ships moved into a line formation as the enemy destroyer drew near. Cardiff’s shields were back at full strength when she fired at the destroyer. Only one beam hit. Portsmouth, North Weald and Northampton were more accurate, and seven more beams burned away 75% of the ships armor. Vancouver finally fired her first shot, and she destroyed the remaining armor, and one of the telekinetic projectors. The enemy destroyer was still trying to get into range to fire back. It was still ten kilometers outside of its range when Cardiff destroyed the ships second weapon. Now unarmed, the destroyer was not a valid target for the Dawn ships, who targeted the next destroyer. This time the enemy approached with three ships almost in a line of their own, but it was too late. The destroyer hit the Vancouver with two shots, and the frigate scored a hit as well. Vancouver’s shields were down to 86%, but the Dawn ships held their formation, firing fifteen beams in response. The destroyer had seventy-six percent of its armor burned off in the volley. The four Dawn frigates fired again, and nine more beams sliced into the destroyer, crippling it. Vancouver then targeted the next destroyer approaching. The enemy frigate fired again at Vancouver, and her shields were down to 71%. Vancouver hit the next destroyer with two beams, and it lost 30 percent of its armor.
Vancouver’s shields were less than 50% when the Dawn ships disabled the fourth destroyer. The enemy frigate had been firing as fast as it could at Vancouver, and was giving a good account of itself. Unfortunately, it was now the last Cue Cappa ship with weapons, and drew the attention of all five of the Dawn ships. The four Dawn frigates volley fired, and the enemy ship was no longer a threat. The Dawn frigates then broke formation to chase down the freighters and the troop transport, while Vancouver finished off the cripples. The freighters and troop transport had managed to get almost 650km away from the battle when they lost their escorts just 33 seconds into the battle. The freighters were moving as fast as they could – 11km/sec. The Dawn frigates cruised at 18 km/sec.
Forty seconds into the battle, Vancouver destroyed the last Cue Cappa warship and joined the chase for the freighters. Porstmouth was leading the other three frigates.
One minute later, the three freighters split into three directions, as the Dawn frigates were within 150km. The Dawn frigates split as well, with the center freighter drawing two frigates, and one each for the other two. The freighters stood no chance of escape.
In just over two minutes, all nine Cue Cappa ships were destroyed. Dawn had returned to Mentocka and this time, they weren’t leaving...
March 28th, 2008, 05:26 PM
The successful military operations in both Zezzis and Mentocka were welcome news. Zezzis VI had fallen and the Dawn had another mineral mining facility in its inventory courtest of the Sergetti.
In Mentocka, the fleet of four frigates and the light cruiser engaged and destroyed an Abbidon fleet of warships and freighters before returning to Mentocka VII to re-supply. The satellite tender Shelly repositioned the Tripwire satellite further into the system to extend its coverage. In Ushphada, a gas giant colony ship would be created to re-colonize Mentocka VIII. Currently, a large troop transport was under construction. The minelayer Conquistador had joined Bulldog on her way into Mentocka. Conquistador wasn't carrying mines, but she was ferrying fighters through the Tilikanthua system and to Mentocka. Eventually, the minefield at the Tilikanthua-Ushphada warp point would be destroyed, but not before the Dawn had a hold on Mentocka that would not be broken a second time...
...onboard CDS Lugosi...
Once the fleet began to engage the Abbidon and Cue Cappa in Mentocka, Lugosi warped into the unknown system where the Abbidon were coming from. The Lapzooli system was a hornet’s nest of activity. No less than twenty-five Abbidon warships were gathered into two fleets. Ships from the Cue Cappa, the Sithrak, the Drushocka, and the Norak were also in the system. Lugosi was a quiet as a grave as she began the search of the system for the Abbidon home world...
...onboard CDS Beagle...
Captain Cabrera was mimicking his counterpart on Lugosi, but his search was for information on the Norak. He had reported the location of two planets. Sheliak II had four of the troublesome Norak intelligence facilities, and there was a Norak spaceport on Sheliak I. There were two Norak destroyers in the system, but both planets were essentially undefended. Neither had a weapon platform, fighters, nor satellites. Mines, however, were a different story, and the question was could Beagle trust her scans when they said none were there. Still, the possibility of a stealth ship being able to strike these worlds was intriguing, and the planners and researchers began doing what they do best...
March 29th, 2008, 01:57 PM
The monthly meeting for the status of the empire revealed that three systems – Haphik, Samora and Ushphada were in need of medical lab upgrades for their respective systems. Seven planetary governors had filed a request for upgrading their climate control facilities. Even the Phong members of the empire were starting to get into the politics of Dawn with their own request – the governor of Zezzis I humbly asked for upgrades to his five radioactive extraction facilities. Some upgrades deemed critical were already in progress – the urban pacification center on Zezzis IV was an example of that. The Zezzis system would soon have a level eight UPC. The current UPC was instrumental in getting the Phong to accept the empire as theirs, and hopefully the Sergetti miners on Zezzis VI would be quick to do so as well.
onboard CDS Bulldog...
Commander O’Rouke was impressed with the new frigates. The new weapon upgrades had made them extremely effective. Their concept was still the same – trade armor for speed and firepower – but now the firepower didn’t need “reloading”, couldn’t be “shot down” by point defense, and was twice as fast to fire. Two or three frigates, operating together, now were as formidable as any ship class known.
The only real weakness of the frigate now was that if it was alone against multiple targets. With no armor, any loss of speed would be fatal. Commander O’Rourke remembered that lesson when she and Admiral (then Captain) Harrison and her engaged in a one-on-one combat simulation between their old England II class frigates. It would be difficult to remember that now she had a ship with the opposite philosophy. Massive shielding and armor protected the cruiser but the speed and quickness was gone. Commander O’Rourke now wielded a battering ram of a ship. Still, the lessons learned from earlier days could be useful...
Sam Chase was at the sensor panel, and he knew exactly what he was looking at, although the computer confirmed it for him.
“Commander, I have a contact. Range is approximately 320,000km. Contact is an Hoised class destroyer. Contact is maintaining that range.”
Commander O’Rourke thought for a moment. The Abbidon fleet had just been mauled, and this destroyer was probably looking for it. It had surely seen them, but probably thought it was confronting a freighter. After all, no one had seen a warship this size before, had they?
“Sensors, any other contacts?”
“Negative ma’am, only the destroyer.”
O’Rourke made a decision. She wouldn’t run down the destroyer. She wouldn’t have to.
“Comm, signal Mentocka VII. Advise them we have an Abbidon destroyer contacted and request an escort. Helm, make your heading 217, speed at one-quarter.”
Heads almost turned, but the orders were confirmed and carried out.
“Commander, Cardiff and Northampton signal they are en route.”
“Thank you, comm. Helm...”
Sam Chase interrupted her.
“Commander! Contact aspect is changing. He’s headed for us. His speed is now fifteen km/sec.”
O’Rourke smiled. “Helm, limp just a bit faster. We’re trying to run away.”
The Abbidon destroyer captain was in a hurry to pick off the freighter before her escorts showed up. Back on Bulldog, Chase counted the range down.
“Target now 90km and closing.”
Weapons then joined in.
“Target is in range, commander.”
“Understood weapons, hold fire. Helm, give me the smallest speed increase you can. Mr. Chase, range please?”
“Range now 78km, commander. Speed still fifteen km/sec.”
“Hold fire, weapons...Mr. Chase...?”
“Range now 65km...”
“50km...Commander, contact has fired! Speed is slowing to thirteen km/sec.”
Commander O'Rourke heard what she had been waiting for.
“All weapons, open fire.”
It was quiet, she would remember. On West End, when the missiles left the tubes, there would always be a slight shudder throughout the ship. She had expected some kind of feedback that five weapons had fired, but there was absolutely nothing. She was tempted to repeat her order, thinking it hadn’t been carried out. Sam Chase proved to her it had been.
“Target hit! Armor is down to eight percent.”
While they did fire faster than the missiles, the anti-proton beams did require time to recharge. During that time, Bulldog’s shields absorbed the enemy fire. Bulldog fired again...
Later, Cardiff and Northampton assumed formation on Bulldog. When queried on their status O’Rourke replied they were just fine. When the three ships left the sector, the destroyer’s debris field had already dispersed...
March 29th, 2008, 07:35 PM
The storage facilities on the planet were state of the art. Minerals needed for the empire were stored here and distributed through a network of both in-system and warp capable ships. The need for the resources would normally be supplied by production facilities, but, in times of high demand the storage facilities would distribute what was necessary.
Today, however, the ship approaching the landing pad wasn’t here to take resources away. They were actually bringing a load of minerals. Minerals that were mined in Pantrissa’s own number three asteroid belt and harvested by the mining ship there. The pilot of the shuttle docked and delivered his load to the transfer bin. It was weighed and scanned for any debris. A sample of the material was analyzed. It read as 93 percent pure, with only trace contaminants – well above the eighty-five per cent minimum required by Empire law.
The pilot accepted his credits, and tipped the loading crew the customary two percent. He declined an offer for a night’s stay, saying the Harvester in the asteroid field was keeping him busy, which was very true. So he wished them well, and took off. The loading crew understood – the storage facility was well below capacity, and stocks needed to be replenished.
The pilot achieved orbit and headed back to the Harvester. Absent-mindedly, he fingered the small religious symbol, and it began to glow. He spoke.
Back on the planet, the newly-deposited minerals were taken to storage facility number three, and added to the stockpile there. Once the door was sealed, a vacuum pump removed the air from the storage bin to help prevent the minerals from degrading.
One of the contaminants in the new shipment was a substance that coated a small piece of the shipment. The material was normally inert. “Normally” in this instance meant in the presence of atmosphere or light. Inside the now sealed facility, there was neither.
The substance began to convert the mineral it was coated on into more of itself, which in turn coated more of the mineral it was in contact with, which in turn made more of the substance.
The net result of this chain reaction was that the entire facility was now storing a load of the new substance. With no more minerals to feed its growth, the process was terminated. Fully eleven percent of the Empire’s mineral stocks were converted to the useless substance. When the facility operators reported the problem, all mineral shipments were halted, further putting delays on construction projects everywhere...
Rita Edwards concluded her briefing. The disaster at Pantrissa VIII was repeated at the organic storage facility on Pantrissa VI - contaminated food - and the radioactive storage facility on Pantrissa II - contaminated isotopes. Edwards had the space tracks of all warp capable shuttles and there was definitely traffic from Sheliak to Pantrissa, under the flag of Cheththod, who was the only ally of the Dawn empire. As a result, warp point access was now restricted to military ships only. Traders and merchants protested, but the decision was made. Without firing a shot, the Norak and their religious believers of the Empire were winning a very different kind of war...
March 29th, 2008, 11:28 PM
The ground combat was vicious. It was classic “strength versus numbers”, as 23 medium troops of the Dawn backed up with 15 fighters attacked the almost 100 militia troops protecting the research facilities. The fighters were the deciding factor, staying in formation and sniping away at the edges of the militia, turning and running to a new spot away from their fire and picking off those on the edge. The militia troops were actually winning the battle in the streets, but they had no answer for the fighters.
Zezzis X was now a Dawn colony. Twenty-five research facilities and over 3.5 billion lives just changed hands from the Sergetti to the Dawn. With that many colonists, rioting ensued. The small transport Polk brought more troops in to quell the rioters. It would take time, but the riots would – hopefully – settle down.
The security was impressive.
Late – thought Edwards – but impressive.
She was here as the head of the intelligence directorate. Such a simple thing, security. ‘Take nothing for granted. Trust no one.’
The saboteur didn’t make it away from this planet, like his counterparts did at Pantrissa VI and VIII. He was in a prison cell. He was naked, and sitting on the floor. There were no windows, no features, no anything. Four walls of nothing. The light that was in the room was from a single recessed light bulb.
Like most, the man would try to demonstrate his faith and hold out as long as possible and not break under questioning.
But there was no questioning.
There was nothing.
The minutes turned to hours.
No questioning. No one to hold out against.
It started innocently enough. A small movement with the foot. Then, a bit later, a shift in position.
‘Just to get the cramp out’ was the rationalization.
Then the realization that the cramp may have been a test from his goddess and he failed.
Panic. Unworthy. Failure.
Then the resolve for a few more minutes.
But still nothing.
He prays, but he is alone.
Religious fervor wanes in the face of no opposition. In the face of nothing, what is there to be angry against?
Then the taunting. "Just try and break me…just try it!! I’ll tell you nothing!! Nothing, do you hear me!! Nothing!!!”
But he is alone.
Minutes pass and he realizes he had failed.
He will tell them nothing. He told them. He gave in. He told them nothing, and they have nothing. They have nothing because he told them nothing. He told it to them!
They have nothing.
They have what he promised they would have.
He fails again.
He is unworthy.
He breaks down and begins to scream. For anybody. For somebody.
Rita Edwards was impressed with the security. In less than three hours, the prisoner broke and was babbling to no one.
She thanked the doctors and the guards, and was escorted to her ship. She had to be back at headquarters next month. Timing was crucial. The Norak ambassador had requested a meeting with the Chairman and she would be there.
...onboard CDS Beagle...
Captain Cabrerra was returning to Sheliak. He had identified a Norak planet that would be the target of a strike. There would be some concern as to how the Cheththod would react to a strike in their system, but that would be secondary. He would be back there next month to lead the attack.
March 30th, 2008, 01:46 AM
...onboard CDS Lugosi...
The stealth ship didn’t find the home world of the Abbidon, but it did find something just as revealing. She had taken up orbit over Lapzooli V. The planet had a spaceport, a supply depot, and two organic farm facilities. That, however was on the surface. The real interesting action was going on all around her. In orbit.
A Drushocka frigate was being re-supplied. Cue Cappa ships were re-supplying at this point as well. And the latest customer was a Norak fleet of twenty-three frigates, also headed to Lapzooli V for supplies.
Pantrissa V shipyard...
The need for the minelayers was gone. Dawn had ships to patrol the warp points. Jaguar was the first of minelayers to be converted to a new type of military freighter. Cargo bays were re-dimensioned. New equipment was brought on board, and men and women began training on the new technology.
The troops had been bunkered for almost two months. The reinforcements were finally here. With any luck, the planet would be taken and they could go home, until the next mission.
...onboard CDS Beagle...
Captain Cabrerra would be late. There would be no attack this month. He sent the signal. The operation against the Norak would be delayed...
The meeting between the Chairman and the ambassador from Norak took place. The interpreter was a religious zealot who believed ardently in the goddess and was also a Terran. It was short. The Dawn was expelling the ambassador. The Norak were charged with theft of Dawn plans and materials. They had one month to repatriate all documents and pay for the destroyed supplies. If they did not, they would be in a state of war with the Empire of Dawn. The meeting was over.
March 30th, 2008, 04:59 PM
While still angry, the population realized that rioting and destroying their own facilities was going to do very little to change the situation. Propaganda material developed at the UPC helped, but this was a planet of research. Twenty-five facilities were dedicated to the discovery of new technologies. Dawn scientists arrived and toured the planet. They began to discuss how to improve the facilities, processes and techniques to get more from the effort expended in those discoveries. As reason and logic started to replace the emotional response of being “conquered”, plans were made to improve the Sergetti facilities – starting now.
Meanwhile, the ground combat at Zezzis XI continued as more fighters were delivered. The last Sergetti planet in the system, Zezzis XII was invaded by 36 troops. The facilities on the planet were a mixture of organic facilities and research facilities. The Dawn was getting impatient. The time to end the Zezzis operation was now.
With the capture of Mentocka VI the ships in the system were re-supplied. Mentocka VII was only one month from completing her own supply depot, then supplies would be abundant. There was a Cue Cappa fleet of eight destroyers and a freighter bearing down on Mentocka VII, however, as the other occupants of the system tried to disrupt the Dawn. Bulldog and Northampton moved into orbit to protect the colony, which had a Hercules V and two Hercules VI weapon platforms to assist the ships.
At Mentocka VI, Cardiff, North Weald and Plymouth were joined by sixty-seven fighters to protect the planet and support ships there. The warp point to Ushphada via Tilikanthua was protected by Vancouver, Northampton and Shelly. Shelly had retrieved and re-deployed the Tripwire IV at the warp point. With a level three anti-proton cannon that had a range of 100km, shields and its own regenerator it was a welcome addition to the defense of the point.
The Cue Cappa fleet kept on course and attacked Mentocka VII. Commander O’Rourke ordered Portsmouth to loop around the right side of the formation, while Bulldog looped around the left. She was giving the enemy a direct and unopposed path to the planet. While Portsmouth nimbly darted in and out of range of the enemy, she had to remember that Bulldog was far less agile, so the turns would be less. She was able to get in behind the enemy fleet, charging for the planet in an arrowhead formation. At 100km from the enemy, Bulldog opened fire on the last destroyer in the formation and burned 50% of her armor away. On the other side of the formation, Portsmouth fired at 90km from her target, and reduced its armor to 65%.
Two of the destroyers fired on Bulldog, including her target, but they never deviated from their course to the planet. Bulldog was able to fire again, and destroyed her target’s armor. The destroyer had its port side ripped open, and lost a point defense cannon as well as its ordinance stores. One of its engines was also damaged. Bulldog took the two enemy hits on her shields, which dropped to 92%.
Portsmouth fired again, but two of her beams missed, and the target lost only a bit more armor. The enemy was not approximately 200km from the planet. The operators on the weapon platforms targeted the lead destroyer.
Bulldog took two more hits, and her shields dropped to 88%. She fired, and the enemy destroyer lost five of its six engines. It could still fire, though.
Portsmouth scored with two hits, and her target had only 28% of its armor left. She was paralleling her target’s course, and out of range of return fire. On Bulldog, Commander O'Rourke ordered a hard turn to port. This would slow the ship and allow the second destroyer that was firing on her to take itself out of range and also allow Bulldog to follow the destroyers into the planet. She took one last shot from her target before her own fire ended its struggles.
Portsmouth fired and scored three hits, removing the destroyer’s armor and slicing into one of the engines. The target’s speed slowed to 11km/sec. More fire from Portsmouth destroyed another engine and a weapon, as she was able to pull ahead of the target and attack its front. The destroyer was down to 9km/sec. Portsmouth fired a third time, and the destroyer lost its second weapon, and began to retreat at 7km/sec. Portsmouth targeted a new destroyer.
By now the five remaining destroyers were within range of the planet. The lead destroyer took ten anti-proton beams and lost all of its armor as well as its weapons. The weapon platforms targeted the next destroyer…
Caught between withering fire from the planet that was effectively disabling their ships with every shot, and a pair of ships on their rear, the destroyers were finished. In less than a minute, the Cue Cappa lost their fleet. One shot hit a weapon platform, and repair was already underway...
April 2nd, 2008, 02:30 AM
The deadline had come and gone for the Norak to recompense the Empire for stolen technology and damages. Nothing happened, of course, No one had really expected the Norak to take the threat seriously.
Rita Edwards had succeeded in finally getting her department to adopt new methods and use more of the technology available to assist with defending against foreign espionage operations. The research department was also modernizing, and the facilities began the process of re-inventing themselves. The end results were simple. More research. Better intelligence.
The Chairman had just announced that the war in the Zezzis system had officially concluded. The last Sergetti colony had fallen, and the Sergetti empire was all but eliminated. Traders made mention of a few holdouts but without a planet or access to resources, they wouldn’t be much more than just that. The inhabitants of Zezzis XII weren’t too keen on the idea, and were rioting. This wasn’t unexpected, however and ground troops had moved to protect the facilities while the newest members of the Dawn empire adjusted to their new lives.
The design of ships larger than the Bulldog class cruiser was now available. Battleships were now available for construction. The preliminary plan for them would be planetary assault, with an eye to defeating the weapon platforms defending enemy colonies. Ordinance-based weapons such as missiles and torpedoes could play a key role in the new ships.
Also available – and with a potentially larger effect on the empire – was a large freighter class. Restructuring the fleet’s support ships led to the downsizing of general transport vessels (currently identified as the President class), but the Harvester class of mining ships was now upgraded to this large freighter class. They would be able to carry six remote mining robots each. They would be slow and take a long time (and cost) to build, but their potential for production would be enormous. With their development, the plan to use satellites as remote miners was scrapped.
The homeworld of Nekkar III had launched the second Bulldog class cruiser, christened CDS Mastiff. The new cruiser was sent to bolster the protection at the Pantrissa-Sheliak warp point. The space yard immediately began production of the first of the giant Harvesters. Even with the impressive production capability of the yard there, the ship would still take three months to build.
The war was going to take another lull as the empire focuses once again on defensive operations and infrastructure improvements. The Phong space yard at Zezzis VII is now a level three facility. The first space yard on Sirius XI was also now operational. The significance of this yard was that it was built on what was once a domed Terran colony, but now populated entirely by the Phong. Phong, Sergetti, and even Abbidon were now integrating into the Empire. The ability of these lifeforms to breathe non-oxygen atmospheres meant that domes across the empire may well become museum pieces...
April 2nd, 2008, 12:02 PM
There was no combat this month as the Empire began modernizing research facilities to level five and intelligence facilities to level four. Medical lab upgrades to level three and mining facilities to level four continue throughout the empire. Population re-alignment continues, and planets are beginning to be utilized to their full potential. The empire has extended an offer to the Cheththod for migration to Empire colonies, as they are the only known race to breathe hydrogen.
Research continues for UPC and repair technologies; as well as torpedo improvements in preparation for deployment on battleships.
The Cue Cappa officially declared war on the empire. In response, the empire colonized a fourth planet in the Mentocka system. This was the first colony established with a non-Terran population, as Abbidon citizens of the empire from Mentocka VI boarded a colony ship and settled Mentocka IV...
April 3rd, 2008, 10:35 AM
There weren’t any celebrations, but the mood of the colonies was good enough that a celebration wouldn’t be out of order.
The Sergetti sent a message to the Dawn empire. They proposed a meeting on Fezzran VI. It was their last world. They were surrendering.
Finally, the Zezzis chapter could be closed, and the system could transition into a more peaceful role, It would still be considered a front-line system, but it would not be a war zone. In addition to their formal surrender of their government and last world, they also delivered resources, as well as technologies the Dawn had access to but not yet researched – medium light hull level 3, fighters level 3, cargo level 2, supply level 3, projectile weapons level 2 and base construction level 3. The planet itself had two mine facilities which would be upgraded as soon as possible. Unfortunately, there was a small problem.
Fezzran VI was out of reach of the Dawn Empire’s vaunted fleet.
The planet had about fifty fighters, but a warship was desperately needed. The Norak, the Sithrak, the Eee, and the Cue Cappa all had ships within easy striking range of the newest colony of the empire. The frigate Manchester was dispatched immediately but would not get to the planet until a month later. Dunwich and Bowhunter were also deployed, but they were two months away from reaching the colony...
Back in the Nekkar system, the first Harvester 600 was launched and replaced the Harvester 400 in the Nekkar asteroid belt number III. Production from that one belt went from 8700 minerals a month to an astonishing 15,000 per month. The new Harvester class was a success...
Dawn’s modernization program was also in full swing. Over eighty research facilities upgraded to a level five. Thirteen mineral facilities and intelligence facilities upgraded to level four. Ships were also getting the latest upgrades. The empire was getting stronger...
Sabotage was still running rampant throughout the empire. The openness of the society was proving to be just what enemies needed as a way to strike against the empire. The empire was getting ready to strike back...
April 4th, 2008, 02:53 AM
The Phong builders on the planet had been dedicating their talents to refitting existing ships for the empire, as well as upgrading their own facilities for maximum production and support. This month, however, they produced their first ship for the empire. A second Harvester 600 was now in service, and it now mined the first of the Zezzis asteroid systems. When the Phong had been shown this technology they couldn’t believe that asteroids could be mined the same way a planet could. Once shown, however, they caught on easily enough. Their contribution to the fleet of asteroid miners just added another 16,000 minerals a month to the empire’s totals…
The Sergetti on the planet were in a much better mood – so much so that most of the ships orbiting the planet could be released for general system duties. CDS Polk had arrived with a load of Terrans from Zezzis I. The Terrans would now breathe the oxygen on Zezzis XI with their Sergetti counterparts, while the Phong on Zezzis I were now able to demolish the domes. Zezzis X and XII, the two large ice worlds with oxygen atmospheres were earmarked for a shipyard each, as their population was already over a billion on each planet. That type of production advantage could not be ignored. The small Phong planet Zezzis VII would eventually use its shipyard for repairs and upgrades only, eschewing production to the larger planets. Once the colonists on Zezzis X and XII were happier in their new role as empire citizens, the transformation from research and farming colonies to construction yards could begin.
Shelak-Pantrissa warp point...
They really didn’t mean to do it.
The cruiser Mastiff led the frigates Dover, Bristol, and Weymouth as well as the point defense destroyer Longbow into the Sheliak system from the Pantrissa side of the warp point. They knew a Norak destroyer would be guarding the Sheliak side of the point.
They didn’t know the Cheththod would have a pair of destroyers there as well.
As Mastiff materialized in the Sheliak system, the Norak destroyer was firing on the Cheththod. Unfortunately, the inexperienced crew on Mastiff fired on the first target presented to it by the computer systems on board. While the Norak fired on one of the Cheththod destroyer, Mastiff fired on the other. When the mistake was realized, it was too late. The Cheththod targeted by Mastiff was crippled, and the second Cheththod destroyer was trying to disengage from the Norak. Meanwhile, the Norak captain saw all five of the Empire ships materialize, and realized he was seriously outgunned. He broke off and almost made it out of the sector before the frigates caught him. Seeing the Norak being chased down by the frigates, Mastiff’s captain took it upon himself to chase down the second “enemy” and destroy it.
When all was said and done, the Dawn empire would regretfully inform their Cheththod allies that their destroyers were destroyed by a Norak ship that was observed to be firing on them. The fact that the Cheththod were able to destroy their attacker before perishing themselves spoke highly of their ability.
...onboard CDS Mastiff...
The crew didn’t have time for recriminations – they were on their way to the Norak colony of Sheliak II. Standing in their path was another pair of Norak destroyers. They were destroyed as the fleet moved into orbit around their target. The attack was carefully planned, as the planet had seven weapon platforms with level two capital ship missiles whose range was 120km. The anti-photon beams on Mastiff had a range of 110km.
Longbow played her role to perfection, drawing the enemy’s missiles to her skimming along the edge of their firing range, and then pulling away, firing her flak cannons as the missiles closed. She did take three missiles which wiped her shields out and disabled one engine. She was able to get the shields back, but not the engine. Still, she was more careful and didn’t make any more mistakes.
Mastiff and her three frigates were taking advantage of the missiles that were targeting Longbow and closed to fire two beam salvos before retreating outside the missile’s range. Working together in this way, Mastiff, the frigates, and Longbow were able to eventually wipe the weapon platforms out, along with four intelligence facilities. The frigate Weymouth also took a missile hit and also lost a single engine, but the planet itself was dead. The Dawn empire had finally entered the intelligence war - in about as most blunt of a way as is possible...
As the five ships moved back to the warp point to wait for the eventual response, Weymouth distributed her supplies to the four remaining ships and warped back into Pantrissa. Until a repair ship could get to them, she would ferry supplies to the ships on the Sheliak side of the warp point...
The successful strike against a Norak intelligence colony wasn’t without risks. The damaged ships were not really that much of a concern, at least as much as how the Cheththod would respond to the attack on a planet in their system. Ironically, the mistake at the warp point could work out to their advantage. If the Cheththod could be convinced that the Norak were attacking their ships and trying to blame their ally (which was exactly what the Dawn was trying to do, albeit in reverse) then they might be convinced to join their ally in expelling the Norak from Sheliak.
Otherwise, the empire ran the risk of going to war with another empire – something they distinctly wished to avoid...
...onboard CDS Lugosi...
The system belonged to the Cue Cappa. There were space stations, frigates and destroyers almost everywhere. Some were damaged, but the analysis of the data suggested the damage was from refits rather than battle. The stealth ship approached Drepana I and performed a scan. The results were coded and sent as a burst transmission. What the rest of the empire’s planners would find out in the next hour is what Lugosi’s crew already knew.
They had found the home world of the Cue Cappa...
April 5th, 2008, 02:42 AM
Onboard CDS Lugosi...
The stealth ship had just finished mapping out the Drepana system. There was only the one Cue Cappa planet – albeit the homeworld. The last planet to be scanned was a large ice planet. There were no signs of life there.
But there was something else...
...onboard CDS North Weald...
They were the closest, so they went first.
Plymouth would follow, but the orders sent to North Weald were painfully succinct and to the point.
"Proceed best speed Drepana III. Rendezvous Beta. Await orders."
“Beta” was the code name for the stealth ship waiting for them there. Lugosi would not move from her position, using her solar collectors to generate supplies to replenish those that the Dawn ships would surely need. It wouldn’t be hard to figure out what the Cue Cappa response would be when an empire they were at war with suddenly appears at your home planet and warships start charging in...
And so North Weald made the trip to the warp point at the best possible speed, ignoring the two Cue Cappa colonies on the way there. Once there, she warped into the new system...
...Mentocka VI shipyard...
The communication was handled in a uniquely Abbidon style. Chameleon like, they used colors to send the message, “painting” the information that needed to be passed. As one, they all picked up on the hues and repeated the patterns. The Terrans who worked with the gaseous beings could interpret the message, and use a child-like (as far as the Abbidon was concerned) version of the same communication with computer-generated images.
But however the message was passed, the meaning was clear. Work on the new ship needed to be done faster. More would work. Somewhere, someone needed a colony ship.
April 5th, 2008, 10:48 AM
...onboard CDS North Weald...
She had achieved orbit with surprisingly little resistance. A single Cue Cappa destroyer challenged them, but it was dispatched easily enough. Around the homeworld, however, a frigate and eight destroyers apparently took no notice of the enemy in their system.
More correctly, the two enemies in their system. A second frigate - Plymouth - was two sectors away from North Weald.
More correctly still – the two enemies they could see...
...onboard CDS Bulldog...
Commander O’Rourke would have preferred to been escorting the support ships into Drepana, but her ship had a different role to play. By now, the fact that ancient ruins had been discovered on Drepana III was becoming the worst-kept secret (as all secrets usually do) and it would be interesting to be on hand to see them when the planet was colonized. Vancouver was escorting the cargo ship Taylor and the repair ship Melbourne to Drepana III. Taylor carried a load of weapon platforms and fighters for the new colony.
Bulldog was with escorting the cargo ship McKinley to Mentocka II – one of the two Cue Cappa planets in Mentocka. Once Bulldog destroyed the two weapon platforms and indigenous troops, McKinley moved in and launched fourth generation invasion troops and the fighters. Mentocka II wasn’t very big, and its mining facilities survived Bulldog’s bombardment. Once taken, they would add to the empires resource production, but of more importance was that the attack may serve to distract the Cue Cappa from what was happening in their own front yard...
Fezzran-Zezzis warp point...
They were back together again. This time, they were a much more potent force.
West End and Southampton, along with Dunwich were now part of the newly created Fezzran fleet. The light cruiser Toronto was also with them, as was the point defense ship Artemis. With the exception of Dunwich, these four ships were the first four ships of the fleet so many years ago. Refit with the latest technology, they were now charged with protecting the Fezzran system from enemies of the empire. As soon as they entered the system, their scans detected a Phong colony on Fezzran II. Four intelligence facilities were on the colony. Rather than destroy them, the decision was made to dispatch the cargo ship Grant with a load of third generation invasion troops to try to take the planet, and use the intelligence facilities against their former owners...
Plans were being made against the Norak colony in the Sheliak system. Three planets were tasked to build troops, while the cargo ships Monroe and Roosevelt would ferry them to the Sheliak system. The repair ship CDS Townsville had warped into Pantrissa and was on her way to the Pantrissa-Sheliak warp point to repair Weymouth. Once that was complete, both ships would warp back into Sheliak and await the invasion forces to join them...
April 6th, 2008, 03:49 PM
The policy of unrestricted warfare against Norak and Phong intelligence colonies was winning support among the population. A strike against Fezzran II led by Toronto destroyed four more Phong intelligence facilities. In Pantrissa, troops were being assembled for an attack on Norak colonies in Sheliak. Both operations were the brainchild of Rita Edwards, who persuaded the military to destroy the threat to allow the empire to operate with as few research restrictions as possible...
Commander O’Rourke was pulling her ship away from the planet. Bulldog had just bombarded the planet’s defenses into oblivion, and McKinley dropped the troops that were fresh off of their victory at Mentocka II. The governor and population of the former Cue Cappa possession were already producing a new supply depot. The rioting that had occurred at the captured Zezis colonies was non-existent here. The Cue Cappa race also breathed oxygen, and woud no doubt begin to migrate within the empire, as had the other races that now made up the Dawn...
April 7th, 2008, 12:32 AM
...onboard CDS Springer...
The stealth ship was quietly monitoring the comings and goings in the system. She recorded the destruction of the Phong colony by the Dawn and was in a position to keep an eye on a prize the Dawn had marked – a huge gas giant with an oxygen atmosphere. The Pinta colonizer was poised on the Zezzis side of the warp point, ready to enter and colonize the planet all in one move, before the Sithrak, who had five of their own colonies in the system, could react. At least, that was the plan.
Springer monitored a warp point entry from an unknown system and counted twenty-three Norak frigates that had entered. The plan for a colony on the gas giant would continue, but the protection would have to be increased...
Onboard CDS Bismarck...
Launched from the Sergetti shipyard at Zezzis XI, the ship was impressive.
Enemies of the Dawn would have another adjective for it.
At over a metric ton, the battleship was easily the largest space vehicle ever encountered. This class was built for assault. It didn’t carry much in the way of defensive equipment – indeed the technician who suggested putting an ECM unit on the battleship was just stared at – but was carrying eight anti-proton cannons on heavy ship mounts. She did carry a single shield with regenerator, but her purpose was simple. Engage the enemy with massive amounts of firepower. At Fezzran II, she would do just that...
She warped into the system and briefly rendezvoused with the Toronto group. Dunwich was detached to escort the battleship, and was absurdly small compared to the behemoth. Together, they moved to Fezzran II and encountered an Abbidon destroyer. Both forces closed on each other, and Dunwich was ordered to break off. This was to be a live fire exercise for the new warship class with very real consequences...
Scanners reported the Abbdion destroyer had no shields, but carried 640 kT of armor. With Bismarck’s first salvo, six of her eight cannons hit and reduced that number to just 131 kT. The Abbidon began to turn and run, but Bismarck fired a second salvo...
With just two salvos, the destroyer had ceased to exist. The battleship was pronounced a success...
The success of the battleship class in combat was somewhat of a relief. There were those who advocated mass production of smaller and faster ships, which could prove just as lethal in sufficient numbers. The ability of a large ship to stand off and destroy with long range weapons, however, won the day (and the debate). While the frigates would still be a mainstay in ship-to-ship combat, the battleship would be the weapon of choice in reducing a planet’s defenses prior to invasion. Of course, the battleship would still be a terrifying foe to any enemy ship that would be unlucky enough to encounter it; but the plan was for fleets to be organized around these giants and not waste their firepower on individual ships.
Reports from the Sheliak system were of another encounter between a Cheththod destroyer and the Empire ships at the Sheliak-Pantrissa warp point. The Empire sent its regrets to the Cheththod with a reminder that they valued the friendship of their first and only ally. The Empire renewed its offer for increased trade and military protection to the Cheththod. It was hoped this one would be accepted.
There was one more item from Sheliak – another set of ruins was located. This time, the planet was an ice planet; Sheliak X. A Santa Maria ice colony ship was already en route from Pantrissa V, but it would take three months to get there. Meanwhile, the frigates Dover and Bristol were released from guarding the warp point and sped toward the planet. Bristol stopped halfway there and would escort the colony ship into the planet.
Townsville also warped into Sheliak along with the cargo ship Adams. Townsville immediately began effecting the minor repairs to Weymouth and Longbow. Also due to the warp point was the second battleship, the CDS Tirpitz. It would join the fleet at the warp point in Sheliak and begin the assault on the Norak colonies there...
(note to the readers: The entries may be coming a bit further apart - there is so much going on and I don't want to miss sharing any of it. The Mentocka campaign begins to wind down as the move into Drepana begins. The Zezzis victory leads to operations in Fezzran and Lezzari. And the attempt to evict the Norak and their never-ending spy operations from Sheliak without alienating my only ally will be something of a challenge. I am tempted to just turn it all over to ministers, but I want to keep the colonies on track with the story. Patience on my end is going to be the hardest part!)
April 9th, 2008, 02:22 AM
Fleet Training Academy...
The simulator was state of the art. The bridge of any ship known to the empire – friend or foe – could be simulated. Prototypes could also be simulated - which was, of course, the entire reason for the simulator in the first place. Those that proved successful throughout the various trials the designers and military put forth were now serving the Empire as ships of the line. Those that didn’t pass had their failures analyzed and evaluated. There were unsuccessful tests, but each test increased the knowledge of the designers, even if it was only in what not to do.
Today’s simulation was a test of the current anti-proton cannon battleship and a torpedo equipped battleship. Their challenge was to reduce the defenses of an active Norak colony. The crew that commanded the current battleship bridge simulator were Academy students, under the command of one of the heavy warship theory instructors. The command staff of the school had been asked to provide their best, and the crew on the bridge simulator was doing a very good job in reducing the defenses. The classic technique of slipping into range of enemy, firing and slipping back out again was used, and the defenses were ultimately eliminated.
Admiral Harrison had been running this Academy since its inception. He had pioneered the technique used and it was now standard practice when assaulting a planet.
After the simulation was cleared, a lone man entered. He was carrying a single small satchel, and withdrew a set of chips, which he connected into the simulator computer. He then punched in an access code and looked back at Admiral Harrison.
The exercise was repeated with two changes. First the anti-proton beam cannons had been replaced by the anti-matter torpedoes that were now available. Maintaining their lethality over 130km, they could out range the current cannons, out-punch them over distance, and as a result end assaults quicker. The only drawbacks to the torpedoes were their reliance on ordinance and the fact that point defense had a chance at destroying them. Still, with proper ordinance and supply support, they could be even more devastating than the beam weapons.
The second change was a bit more radical.
There was no crew.
The ship was run by a master computer, which could control the ship’s functions. Ship space would no longer be designated for the support of personnel, which meant more weapons, armor, shields, etc.
Harrison watched the demonstration impassively. He, and most professionals, knew the day was coming when computers would control the ships. Of course, they all thought it would come just a bit later.
Harrison signed off on the test results. Seeing no significant advantage to having members of the military in harm’s way, the ships would begin to refit for computer control as soon as they could...
The planet was colonized, and work began immediately on a Hercules VIII platform. Crews on the planet worked overtime to get the platform completed. The frigates Thames and Oxford orbited to defend the colony, while Montreal and the repair ship Alice Springs waited at the warp point. The stealth ship Springer was still shadowing the Norak fleet as it moved through the system. Springer reported that the fleet’s orders were to still warp out into an unknown system. Now that Dawn had established the colony there, everyone was wondering what the Norak fleet would do now...
With the establishment of the Dawn colony in Lezzari, Southampton, West End and Artemis were detached from Fezzran and were now heading to Lezzari. The Norak weren’t the only ships in the system, as a Sithrak carrier and support ships were also present, in orbit over one of their colonies. The Sithrak had stayed out of the war to this point, but caution would be observed. They would be offered a treaty, but the ships were still on their way.
Toronto also warped into the system from Fezzran, but she put into port to begin the upgrade to a Canada X class light cruiser. She would be the first capital ship in service to get the master computer upgrade. She would also swap one of her anti-proton beam cannons to carry 900kT of armor and a level-2 flak cannon with a range of 110km. She would also upgrade to a level 2 solar sail.
Fezzran-Zezzis warp point...
With the departure of the four ships to Zezzis, the task of guarding the warp point now fell to Bismarck, along with Dunwich and Norwich. They would also upgrade as the situation allowed...
In Sheliak, Mastiff escorted the cargo ship Adams and the repair ship Townsville to the first Norak colony, Sheliak IV. It was a tiny planet with only one mining colony, but it was a first step. The Santa Maria ice planet colony ship on its way to the ruins at Sheliak X was met by Dover, and would be escorted through the system until it reached the planet. Bristol was already there as a deterrent from others to send a colony ship that way.
The stealth ship Beagle reported that the spaceport on Sheliak I was now protected by ten weapon platforms. The Cheththod fleet guarding the warp point to Lacerta was still over forty ships strong with two carriers, which held thirty fighters. A third Norak destroyer was on its way to the Sheliak-Pantrissa warp point, and the empire ships guarding that point were alerte...
Pantrissa V shipyard...
The cargo ship Monroe returned for a master computer upgrade. Roosevelt was due in for the same next month. Warping in from Zanthris was the battleship Tirpitz. She was en route to Sheliak and would take part in the assault on the Norak colonies there. A Santa Maria would colonize another ice planet in Pantrissa next month as well. This was a large ice planet, with a carbon dioxide atmosphere that would be home to a colony of Phong citizens of the Empire.
The colony ship navigated around the sectors known to contain hostile ships, and eventually touched down. More Cue Cappa ships were starting to come into the system, but the Dawn had established a colony in Drepana, and had three warships there to defend it. The colonists immediately began working on a supply point to keep their defenders well stocked. The ruins yielded secrets of massive planetary shields, and would prove useful on high value planets.
Along with the offer of trade to the Sithrak, a new peace offering was made to the Phong, this time showing Phong citizens of the empire productively engaged. They were happy and prosperous. It was a blatant attempt at propaganda, but if it worked, one less empire would be seeking to destroy the Dawn...
April 10th, 2008, 02:21 AM
The ground troops moved throughout the colony. They had already destroyed the colony militia that opposed them. There was still the task of finding the inhabitants and meeting with their leader, to explain that the “occupation” wouldn’t really be an “occupation”, that – with the exception of activities that would hurt the empire – the colony was free to pursue whatever goals it desired.
During the battle, the residents left their homes and facilities, and had probably gone to some underground shelter. The commander of the ground forces reported that the colony proper was deserted. The search continued into the undeveloped areas on the planet. A report had finally come in that the Norak had been located. The members of the Pantrissa Urban Pacification Center were on board Adams overhead, and now prepared to shuttle down to the planet to meet with the residents.
They never made it.
Reports began to come in from various points along the planet. More and more enclaves of the Norak citizens were being located. Each report was more disheartening than the last. The Norak, either through their own propaganda, religious fervor, or abject fear of capture had taken their own lives rather than live under the rule of the empire.
The empire’s latest addition was a dead planet.
At the same time as the ground troops were making their discoveries, Tirpitz had warped into the system and began the trip to the Norak spaceport at Sheliak I. She had steamrolled over a Norak destroyer who challenged her, and would meet with Bristol to begin the bombardment of the planet. Dover was escorting the Santa Maria ice colony ship to Sheliak X and would be there next month, freeing Bristol to escort the battleship...
Upgrades were in progress throughout the system. Medical labs and space yards were undergoing improvements. Also being improved was the satellite coverage of systems. Warp points would be monitored by anti-photon cannons mounted on Checkpoint satellite systems, while interior system coverage would be provided by new Navstar satellites. Little more than radars on a computer platform, they would provide low-maintenance coverage of system space.
Chairman Lomax listened to the reports of the improvements in the empire’s technology and living standards. They were upbeat, but his mind kept wandering to the reports of the Norak colonists on Sheliak IV. How the Dawn empire must be perceived for a group to choose to take their own lives as opposed to living with them was something he couldn’t fathom. Of course, he was biased. But had he ever looked from the viewpoint of others? Did the Dawn empire have the right to impose their standards on others? Surely the improvements were considered beneficial – other races had adopted to their way of life easily enough.
Still, the thought persisted. Would they win the wars they found themselves engaged? Probably. Their technology and skill were more than a match for anyone they found themselves in opposition with. Yes, they would probably win against whoever they faced. That wasn’t the issue. There was a more fundamental question.
April 12th, 2008, 11:13 AM
Rita Edwards was pleased. Her intelligence department was finally starting to engage in some offensive missions of its own. The attacks against the enemy’s facilities were definitely helping, but she was sure that the day was very near when the department would be able to glean just as much information from other empires as they had been acquiring from hers. Her agents were in the field, and they were getting better with each passing day.
Of course, the old earth scientist Darwin could have told her that as well…
Meanwhile, the economic situation of the empire was improving as outdated weapons platforms, fighters and troops were scrapped. Mineral production was just keeping up with the demands of an ever-updating fleet, and research efforts were now focused on improved mineral production...
CDS Bismarck was now operational as a class two battleship. The removal of the “biologicals” resulted in enough space for several improvements. Her main update had been to weaponry. Gone were the anti-proton beam cannons, and in their place were nine torpedoes. She also carried 900kT of emissive armor along with a class-7 shield with regenerator.
The last technician on board the ship had cycled the computer, and confirmed the readout. He keyed in the security code and Bismarck became the empires first fully automated warship...
Mentocka VII shipyard...
The crew of the Konigsberg departed the ship for the last time. This battleship was also about to become automated. She would be even more powerful than Bismarck with a tenth torpedo being added to her arsenal. Her last act as a manned ship had been to escort McKinley as she dropped troops onto an Abbidon colony just established two months earlier at Abbidon II…
April 12th, 2008, 04:56 PM
The Empire ground troops approached the colony. There were nine units, each armed with a torpedo with over twice the range of any known ground weapon. The Abbidon weren’t interested in a fight, and they abandoned their lone militia unit. Dawn had taken another planet with only a single shot. The Mentocka system now contained seven Dawn colonies and four planets that were still waiting for owners. With patrol ships at each of the two exiting warp points, the Mentocka system was no longer a war zone, but a front-line system. Infrastructure improvements could start immediately.
...onboard CDS Beagle...
Ed Jefferies kept to himself for the trip into Lacerta. One of the black uniformed guards was at his cabin door the entire time. He did meet with the captain briefly, but his orders did most of the talking. Jefferies was a high-level operative, who answered only to Rita Edwards herself...
Captain Cabrerra was back in Lacerta with his stealth ship and crew. The first, and most experienced of the “ships that weren’t there” Beagle was running Ed Jefferies to Lacerta system. In the cargo hold of the ship was a small shuttle with no distinct markings. Cabrerra knew that Jefferies was headed to a Norak colony – alone – and was supposed to be back at the ship at a pre-arranged time. Cabrerra did have some leeway should Jefferies not return when scheduled, but even in a ship that couldn’t be seen, staying in one place too long was a risk. Should Beagle move and remain cloaked, Jefferies shuttle wouldn’t have the capability to warp out of Lacerta on its own. In short, he would be trapped in a hostile system.
All the more reason to run through the plan again, and again. Jefferies’ first operation was with a Norak sympathizer back on Pantrissa V. He still had the religious artifact she transmitted her reports through. His role this time was that of a trader, looking to purchase ore from the extraction facilities on Lacerta III. Extremely suspicious of outsiders, Jefferies trump card would be his “belief” in the goddess and his promise to spread Her message – provided his ship was able to get the ore he needed...
Cabrerra was right at home. Beagle had found an asteroid field and Cabrerra watched with amusement as his navigator tried to remain calm among the rocks. Cabrerra had negotiated fields more dense than this with a freighter four times the size of the frigate he now commanded. He reassured his navigator and the ship shut down its engines in between two asteroids that were tracking parallel courses. Jefferies boarded his shuttle and left the Beagle.
As he approached the planet, he sent a standard hail. There were five very menacing satellites each armed with a depleted uranium cannon in orbit around the planet. After stating his intentions and wishing the blessings of the goddess upon all who were in Her favor, Jefferies shuttle was cleared to land.
At the extraction facility, Jefferies approached the controller and walked up to him. Without saying a word, he withdrew a small weapon and smiled.
“Today, brother, you shall see the Goddess.”
Leaving the body behind him, Jefferies began to plant the charge he brought. It wasn’t very powerful and would do nothing to the extraction facilities, whose sheer bulk – mostly underground – could withstand a direct missile hit.
The control station, however, was another story.
After planting the charge, he had one more mission to perform that would take him into more popluated parts of the colony. A half-hour after he left, the charge detonated. The control station was severely damaged, and there was now no way to remove the ore that was mined by the facility. Totally automated, the facility continued to dig ore and send it back to the entrance for removal. When the ore at the entrance wasn’t removed, more piled behind it. The end result was that the ore in the facility was now entombed and the only way to extract it would be to take the facility apart and manually load it for removal and storage.
Dawn had just completed its first offensive intelligence mission against the Norak. For Captain Cabrerra and the crew of the Beagle, it was just another mission. They had second one on this trip.
They were to be a tour guide. Beagle's sensitive nose and ears was monitoring the warp point between Fezzran and Lacerta. Two Norak destroyers were guarding it. She also picked up emissions from the Empire ships that were about to warp into Lacerta from Fezzran. They were in for a surprise.
A big surprise...
Lacerta-Fezzran warp point...
The crew of the Norak destroyer couldn’t help themselves. They knew something unauthorized was coming into their system. They were on a destroyer. They were on a ship the Goddess herself would be proud of. It was the best the Norak had. There were rumors of the Dawn empire having larger ships, but that was discounted. How could another race have any ships larger than those that served the Goddess? And no one had come back from the encounters with the heathens of the empire to report of the rumored larger ships, had they?
Artemis actually came through first. She had received a single anti-proton beam cannon in her latest upgrade, so she was a threat to ships as well as to fighters. She warped in with the Norak behind her. She immediately went to her top speed and started away from the warp point. The Norak ships began to chase Artemis down...
What happened next was utterly incomprehensible to the Norak. Bismarck warped in and immediately fired all nine torpedoes at the closest Norak ship. The first Norak destroyer was vaporized. The master computer then assessed the remaining threat as insignificant to the battleship herself, and cleared her targeting computer, saving her torpedoes for bigger game.
The crew on the second Norak ship hadn’t fired. They were closing the range when they saw the battleship. Never before could they even imagine something so powerful. Those that could see it thought it was the manifestation of the Goddess Herself. They watched their sister ship be extinguished with one breath of fire from the giant.
Nobody moved. They knew their day was at hand, and they began to cry joyfully. They had seen the Goddess! They had been judged worthy of Her!! They would be with Her! The priests were right!! They fell to their knees and prayed to the ship. As they prayed, they saw the two servants of the Goddess also enter their system. Their joy knew no bounds!
The servants pointed the way to Her with a path of shining light. Shining brightly, showing the way! Burning brightly!!. Burning to cleanse them in preparation of being with Her!! Any moment now, and they would join with Her! Any mome......
Onboard the Dawn frigates, the captains were unsure why the Norak had stopped their attack on Artemis. They knew, of course, it had to be related to the appearance of Bismarck, but they couldn’t be sure as to exactly why. In a moment, it didn’t matter as the second Norak destroyer was now a fireball dissipating into the nothingness of space...
The frigates rejoined on Bismarck and Artemis and plotted a course for the first Norak colony. Beagle, who had been monitoring the battle, sent a coded signal to Lacerta III...
The man was definitely an outworlder. The citizens of Lacerta III called for a priest to advise them of what to do. They had seen outworlders before – traders and some worshippers – but this one was raving about the Goddess. He wasn’t blaspheming. Quite the opposite. He was singing Her praises. But he was saying something that was causing a mild panic among the citizens.
The Goddess was here. In Lacerta. Right now.
Citizens flocked to their priests to understand what it meant. Work stopped, and everyone was going to their priest or their own personal shrines. Word was beginning to spread that the Goddess had indeed transited through the warp point and called the two ships guarding it to Her. She was coming – to call Her faithful back. Back to Her.
For his part, Jefferies milled about aimlessly, playing his role. Inwardly, he felt a bit sorry for the Norak citizens, for he had guessed their religion was controlled by priests, who were the direct conduits to the Goddess.
Of course, now that the Goddess was on Her way, who needed a conduit?
Jefferies smiled at the thought of the priests explaining that one away...
April 13th, 2008, 04:44 AM
Chairman Lomax thought he misheard Rita Edwards as she gave her report regarding the Lacerta system. He had never heard anything like it before.
“They think we’re what?”
Rita kept her voice impassive as she continued.
“Yes, sir. They think we are servants of their goddess. And, if our intercepts are correct, they think our battleship is their goddess.”
Nobody spoke as they tried to digest that last piece of information.
Rita relayed the report of her “asset” on Lacerta III and about how the population was in turmoil because they believed their goddess was on her way to their planet.
Someone made the observation that if their “goddess” gave a command to surrender, then the war could be over. Rita shook her head.
“It seems the priests of Norak were caught in a quandary – their goddess was actually here. But they’ve convinced the population that Bismarck is a false god and it is the duty of every Norak citizen to fight at all costs. They now see the war with us as a duty to save their goddess. From us.”
Chairman Lomax drew the inescapable conclusion.
“So any hope of ending this war peacefully...”
Edwards finished the thought.
“...has just been eliminated."
Lomax put his head in his hands.
The colony was jubilant. The planet, along with her sister planet, Zezzis X had just completed their space yards. With over four billion colonists each, the capacity for production was impressive. Zezzis now boasted five colonies with shipyards. Once a thorn in the side of the empire, Zezzis was fast becoming the jewel of the crown...
...onboard CDS Bulldog
Commander Katherine O’Rourke was on her last mission. Bulldog would be refit with a master computer and her crew would be reassigned. O’Rourke was hardly a candidate for retirement, but she would no longer be putting her life in danger among the stars. Machines would do that for her. Her accomplishments were impressive, and she would no doubt speak at the fleet academy at Nekkar III from time to time. Her old commander on Southampton, Admiral Harrison (was it really that long ago?) had already issued an invitation to her to do just that. And it would be at the end of the Drepana campaign.
Her thoughts were interrupted. The sensor officer, Sam Chase updated her.
“Ma’am, I have Konigsberg’s beacon. She’s five sectors away from us. Data from her master computer confirms the ship is fully operational.”
O’Rourke merely nodded. Five sectors to the warp point, and then eight sectors to the Cue Cappa home world. McKinley was there as well, loaded with ground troops ready to try and take the planet once the defenses were down. O’Rourke reviewed the latest intelligence updates. The planet had two base stations in orbit, six ships and two satellites. No weapon platforms were known to be there. The ships available were the battleship Konigsberg, her ship, Bulldog, and the frigate Portsmouth. McKinley was also there. The ships and satellites would be her’s and Plymouth’s responsibility. Konigsberg would take out the bases. McKinley would land the troops. The planet would fall. She would retire.
Somehow, she thought it might be a bit rougher than that. Still...
“Comm, signal Konigsberg we are waiting. Upload signatures for us, Portsmouth, McKinley and North Weald.”
Within seconds, Konigsberg sent a reply. The disembodied voice was female and almost alluring. O’Rourke froze when she heard it.
“CDS Bulldog, this is Konigsberg. The addition of North Weald to the is in excess of mission parameters. North Weald is assigned to planet defense at Drepana III. Please confirm command code override for reassignment, Commander.”
O’Rourke then laughed out loud, and heads turned. Sam Chase didn’t get it.
“Commander, something we should know about?”
O’Rourke shared a bit of her past.
“The old days, Mr. Chase. Warp point warnings used the same voice. I do hate that voice.”
The crew smiled and went back to their tasks. O’Rourke answered the query from the computer four sectors away.
“Konigsberg, this is Bulldog. Override code one-seven-four. Frigate class attack ship North Weald currently at Drepana III will join formation prior to mission start. Execute.”
The reply from Konigsberg was almost immediate.
"Command code confirmed. Mission parameters updated. Thank you, commander."
Under her breath, O’Rourke muttered.
"Thank you, sweetie."
April 13th, 2008, 04:41 PM
The messages were sent, and a gift of resources was offered to the Wozen empire. Of the known life forms, they were the only one who could exist with no atmosphere. Attempts had been made at repairing the relationship between the Cheththod and the empire, but they were slipping away. Nine separate empires were contacted with offers of trade treaties. Most of the races contacted breathed oxygen, carbon dioxide, or methane. The Wozen were especially courted for the possibility of migration to live on planets in the empire without oxygen. The Cheththod were the only hydrogen breathers, but if the relationship with them didn’t improve, then the only chance of their race migrating to Dawn colonies was through capture...
...onboard CDS Bulldog...
After warping into the system, O’Rourke detached the repair ship Melbourne and the new fast repair frigate class ship CDS Beta at the warp point with Northamptom. She then proceeded on to Drepana I with Konigsberg, and Portsmouth. They rendezvoused with North Weald and attacked the home world of the Cue Cappa.
Sam Chase began the sensor sweep and provided the information on the defenders. What he found was a complete surprise.
“Commander, I’m not sure about this, but I’m not reading any weapon platforms on the planet.”
O’Rourke blinked. “Confirm that sensors – are you sure?”
Chase was already re-scanning the planet.
“Confirmed, Commander. Drepana I has no weapon platforms on the ground. Scanning base stations..."
O’Rourke breathed a bit easier. The fact that no weapon platforms were defending a planet was always good news. The news got even better.
“Commander, the bases are not armed. They’re construction bases only. Seven ships scanned; four are inbound – destroyer class. Three ships are not moving. They’re freighters, ma’am, and they don’t appear to be crewed. There are also two armed satellites”
The Cue Cappa were unprepared. O’Rourke could hardly believe her luck. Four destroyers were a sizable force, but against a battleship, cruiser and two frigates...
“Comm, update North Weald and Portsmouth with our data. Also, signal Konigsberg.”
The communication officer opened a channel to the battleship.
“Bulldog this is Konigsberg – how can I help you, commander?”
O’Rourke wasn’t afraid of the defenders now; she was afraid of the programming on the giant ship 40 km to her rear.
“Konigsberg, mission parameter update – signal ready.”
“Ready to copy, commander.”
“Konigsberg, target update – inbound targets are hostile. All other targets neutral. Target planet threat status is neutral. Target satelites hostile, but outside engagement parameters. Confirm, Konigsberg.”
A brief pause.
“Konigsberg confirms, commander. Four hostile targets inbound. Target satellites outside engagement parameters. No other hostile targets.”
O'Rourke now deployed her force. The only concern now was keeping the enemy ships away from the troop transport.
“Konigsberg, target first hostile. North Weald and Portsmouth, target enemy satellites. McKinley, avoid target range and launch troops at your discretion. All ships execute.”
The frigates made a wide loop around the destroyers, who had to concentrate on the battleship and cruiser bearing down on them. McKinley looped the other way, out of range of the satellites and made for the planet to drop her troops. Konigsberg pulled even with Bulldog and they made for the enemy ships.
“Commander, stay behind me. We wouldn’t want casualties.”
O’Rourke suddenly remembered why she never liked that damn voice. But, the computer was right. The bulk of the battleship was a natural bunker, and no Terrans were on board it to get hurt. She didn’t answer but let the battleship pull ahead.
Sam Chase provided the details.
“Konigsberg just fired torpedoes, Commander. She’s entering the range envelope of the first destroyer...enemy has fired on Konigsberg...target point defense activated...hit! Enemy has been hit and...”
Chase was speechless for a moment as he tried to absorb the enormity what he saw.
“Commander, the destroyer!! It’s...it's gone.”
Konigsberg was a bit more detached about the event.
“Target negated, commander. Second hostile targeted.”
Sam Chase suddenly had the urge to scream at the enemy – begging, pleading for them to run away. He wondered what went through their minds as they saw what they faced. Inside he begged them. Run, he thought. Please!!
Konigsberg took the brunt of the destroyers fire, but her shields were regenerating almost as fast as they were being hit. The battleship fired four times. It was over.
As the warships pulled back from the planet, O’Rourke reflected back on what her commander once told her about war.
“Katherine, never forget this. The last thing you ever want in a battle is a fair fight.”
With lives to protect, she understood the meaning perfectly well. But this…could this even be called a battle? The crew was even subdued. The release of tension after emerging victorious from a life and death struggle from past battles simply wasn’t here. They were simply in awe of what had just happened. Such power was difficult to contemplate. Opposing such a power was frightening.
Wielding it was even more so...
April 16th, 2008, 02:55 AM
The members of the board for the Colonial Dawn empire watched the replay of the attack on the Cue Cappa homeworld. They watched their vaunted battleship brush aside the best the Cue Cappa had to offer. They watched their most publicized – and beloved – commander lead the assault.
And then, they watched and heard her do something inexplicable.
They continued to watch and listen...
(last month)...onboard CDS Bulldog...
The radio blared to life. “Bulldog, this is McKinley – please repeat your order.”
O’Rourke’s voice was definitely heard. It was clear and unbroken.
“McKinley, this is Bulldog. I am exercising command authority. You are ordered to recover your ground forces immediately and join formation. Confirm, McKinley.”
The captain of the transport responded, and he was bewildered at such a command.
“Commander O’Rourke, are you serious? We've got these bastards on the ropes. We'll have control of the planet in less than a week!”
What happened next was impossible to comprehend.
“Konigsberg, this is Bulldog.”
”This is Konigsberg, how can I assist you, commander?”
Again, the calm and level voice of O’Rourke was heard giving the order.
“Konigsberg, exercise command override, code one-seven-four – new hostile target designate. Signal ready to copy.”
”Ready to copy, commander.”
There was a short pause, and then it continued.
“McKinley, this is Bulldog – will you comply?”
The video feed showed the bridge crew of Bulldog unable to take their eyes off of O’Rourke. She was calm, and looked for all the worlds like she was navigating a space port docking. It was impossible to tell that she was a hair’s breath from infamy.
“Bulldog, this is McKinley – commander, what are you doing?!!? Whose side are you on!!? We’ve received no such recall order!!!”
Again, the calm voice came through.
“McKinley, for the last time sir, will you comply?”
After what seemed an interminable silence, a new voice was heard.
“This is McKinley transport control, all ground forces disengage and return to drop point alpha. Stand by for recall.”
O’Rourke again was on the display.
“Konigsberg, cancel override, target is friendly. North Weald, escort McKinley to Drepana III and recover colonists. All other forces will disengage from planet blockade and return to Mentocka warp point. Konigsberg confirm.”
“Konigsberg confirms, commander. No hostile target. Disengage and return to Mentocka warp point.”
The board members were quiet. The most publicized – and beloved – commander of the empire had just been recorded ordering the abandnment of the Drepana system and committing what might be the first act of treason in the empire’s history.
April 16th, 2008, 07:17 PM
Three people outside the Drepana system were aware of what happened on board Bulldog. The commander of the transport McKinley was the object of Commander O’Rourke’s actions, as were the troops and colonists now aboard McKinley. The battleship Konigsberg also had data log video and audio of the event, which was viewed by the three people in the room. The frigates North Weald and Portsmouth also knew what happened, but they were fiercely loyal to O’Rourke.
O’Rourke was now on an encrypted live feed with the three people in the headquarters briefing room. Chairman Lomax was present, as was the Intelligence Department Minister Rita Edwards. The Defense Minister was also present. He was in the unenviable position of having his best commander taking actions that made him seem unaware of what was happening around him.
Which he was.
Lomax spoke first.
“Commander, you know why we are meeting. I need to understand why you have ordered the abandonment of the Drepana system. You have not received such an order from anyone here, I presume?”
The Defense Minister blanched, but said nothing.
“Chairman, Ministers; I will not apologize for my actions, but I will explain them.”
O’Rourke’s voice was as calm and as level as before. Rita Edwards now intervened.
“Commander, your record is impressive, and…”
O’Rourke wasn’t going to be interrupted.
“Minister Edwards, forgive me, but I hardly think you are here to review my record. You want to know if I am in full control of my own mind. The Cue Cappa have psychic abilities, and you want to know one of three things: One,” and she started holding up her fingers to emphasize her points, “you want to know if I am sane. I tell you, I am very much so.”
“Two, you want to know if I have been affected by some mind control by the Cue Cappa. Again, I say I am in control of my own thoughts. And three, have I defected and committed treason.”
Edwards couldn’t help but admire her, as most couldn’t. There was a honesty and directness that some found disarming, but Edwards found refreshing. Someone who was so like herself. Which is why Edwards almost hated asking.
“Well commander – are you a traitor?”
“No, minister, I am not.”
Lomax then picked up the questioning.
“Then why, commander? Why the retreat when we were so close to victory? The ground troops were almost in control of the plane when you threatened to have Konigsberg destroy McKinley. Why retreat then?”
O’Rourke now chose her words carefully as she continued.
“I say again, I am in control of my own mind, but one of my crew on board is not. My sensor officer, Lieutenant Sam Chase.”
Lomax looked confused, but Edwards leaned over to him.
“The surviving officer from the Leeds incident.”
“Mr. Chase was at his post during the attack on Drepana I. He witnessed firsthand the power of Konigsberg against the Cue Cappa. He knew the Cue Cappa had no chance against the battleship. He reported to me that during the attack, he was begging the Cue Cappa ships to run – that they had no chance against such a power: but he was doing so in his mind.”
A playback of the battle was shown, and Chase was staring at the display when his lips moved imperceptibly. He was crying as the battle was over.
“Apparently, Chairman, Ministers; Mr. Chase’s emotions and pleas were heard. He was contacted by the Cue Cappa. I spoke with him in my quarters, and have the video of the interview.”
The screen display dissolved and reformed on the commander and the lieutenant. Chase was sitting opposite of the commander, but was speaking to her as if she was far away.
“You have com-pas-sion in your species? You care about those you destroy?”
O’Rourke looked at Chase.
“We did not want war. We do not wish to destroy.”
Chase spoke again.
“Your actions, com-man-der prove your lies. Your ship is like god. Power we do not know. Power that you use to destroy. You destroy us. You on planet. You kill. You destroy. And you say you do not want war, com-man-der. What do you want, if not war?”
O’Rourke spoke again.
“We want peace.”
Chase howled in rage.
“Lies!! You cover our planet. You take our worlds! You take others! You take! You take!! You take!!! You only give destruction. You lie! We know of your others!!!”
O’Rourke was now the one confused.
Chase settled down, but continued.
“Sith-rak. Nor-ak. Ab-bi-don. Ser-get-ti. Eee. Phong. Xi-Chung. Cheth-thod. All you have destroyed, com-man-der. All you have lied to, com-man-der. Our enemies. Our friends. Now we are all friends, com-man-der. We all have only one enemy now, com-man-der. All are friends. All but one, com-man-der. All against one enemy, com-man-der.”
The three at headquarters now began to realize the enormity of what was happening. The entire galaxy was lining up against the Dawn.
The playback continued. Chase was still speaking.
“Yet, com-man-der – this one. This one cried out. This one tried to warn. You destroy and this one cried. Why, com-man-der? Is this one not you?”
O’Rourke was trying to formulate an answer and comprehend what was going on at the same time.
“There are others who live in peace with us. Abbidon, Sergetti. Phong. Even Cue Cappa. Live with us. In peace. This one is like me. But others live with…”
Chase cut her off.
“Then why this one warn us? It is like you. It destroys.”
O’Rourke tried to ply the opening she thought she saw.
“This one, and others, care. We all care. We want peace. Yes, we destroy. But we don’t want to destroy. We want peace.”
Chase was silent, but spoke again after a moment.
“Then go, com-man-der. Go and leave. Live, but go. Show us you want peace. Take what you brought and go.”
O’Rourke thought she knew what was happening.
“Abandon our colony on Drepana III?”
Chase howled again.
“Not yours!!! Not! Take yours and go!!”
O’Rourke pressed on.
“We will go, and there will be peace? All enemies will be friends?”
Again, Chase slumped a bit. It was a full thirty seconds before he spoke again.
“Take and go from Dre-pana. Take and go from Lezz-ari. Take and go from Fezz-ran” Take and go from She-li-ak. Take and go from La-certa. You want peace, com-man-der? Take and go.”
O’Rourke spoke quickly. Too quickly.
“You want us to leave those systems or there will be no peace? How can you…”
Again, Chase interrupted her.
“Com-man-der. We have one enemy. But we cannot defeat you. You would destroy all of us. You have power and you will win. But you will be alone, com-man-der. And who will be left for you to destroy, com-man-der?”
Chase stopped for a moment, and then continued.
“It has started, com-man-der. See your power, com-man-der. Take what you brought and go, com-man-der. Stay, and win. And lose.”
Chase went limp and O’Rourke started up toward him when her intercom intruded.
“I’m sorry, commander, I know you said no interruptions, but we have an attack in progress in the Mentocka system.”
The video switched back to a live feed. O’Rourke addressed the members again.
“You all know about that attack. Fifteen Abbidon destroyers took on four Dawn frigates. They were either destroyed or crippled, and not one of our ships were harmed. What you don’t know about is this attack, in Fezzran. I downloaded it from Konigsberg just thirty minutes ago. Bismarck was in transit in the Fezzran system when this happened.”
Again, the display dissolved and reformed. The view was of space, and then a tactical display of the situation. In the corner of the display was a log of the events and the decisions of the computer in charge of Bismarck. Thirty-seven Norak destroyers and eight supply ships were attacking Bismarck. The log was then displayed, with the tactical overlay in the background.
“Bismarck heading 022, Target One closing...120km...110km...100km...firing torpedoes...reloading...target point defense activated...eight torpedoes hit...Target One negated...Bismarck ahead slow…Target two closing...110km...100km...firing torpedoes...Bismarck ahead slow...”
The display continued with the same series of events.
“...Target twenty-seven negated...Bismarck ahead slow...Target twenty-eight closing...110km...100km…firing torpedoes...target point defense activated...seven torpedoes hit...Target twenty-eight negated...Bismarck ahead slow...Targets twenty-nine through forty-five turning, new heading 190, speed 13km/s…Bismarck has insufficient speed to pursue…Bismarck returning to course 018...”
The display again switched to Commander O‘Rourke. She continued.
“Chairman, Ministers, we have an update from our Ferret satellites that the Sithrak have a fleet of seventeen ships forming up in Lezzari, and the Xi-Chung have a fleet of seventy-three ships and over 100 fighters just outside Drepana. Our last intelligence had the Cue Cappa and Xi-Chung at war with each other. Now, the Xi-Chung fleet is traveling together with the Cue Cappa towards Drepana.”
The implication was clear. Dawn was a source of fear. Dawn could not be stopped. Lomax now understood why all gifts had been refused by every empire they approached. No one wanted to make a treaty with Dawn. No one wanted to ally with evil. Lomax, to his chagrin realized now that the empire had achieved everything it sought out to do so long ago. Knowledge, at any cost; power, at any cost. They had both, but they were a source of revulsion to the rest of the galaxy. The rest of the galaxy had banded together against the Dawn, and had decided it would be preferable to die than exist with this malignancy that called itself the Dawn Empire...
April 17th, 2008, 10:58 AM
Chairman Lomax was about to address the empire. He actually looked forward to this one. A great weight seemed to lift from his shoulders as he reviewed his notes. He was about to lead the empire into a new age. He had built up an empire, which was more than able to sustain itself, and grow in knowledge and power. His efforts in molding that empire were key to its success.
He was abdicating. He had a successor already chosen – Rita Edwards – and it would fall to her now to lead the empire through what were currently troubled times, but times which held promise. He had ordered the withdrawl from Lezzari, from Drepana, from Sheliak, and also from Lacerta. Almost immediately, the stance of the other races allied against him seemed to soften, and plans were made to share the wonders of the technologies Dawn had gained with all. There would still be a fleet, but it would spend most of the time at training facilities, responding only to incursions.
The goal of the empire would be to improve its knowledge and understanding not of the research projects it acquired so easily, but of those that lived with them in the galaxy. Through one compassionate act by a lieutenant in the middle of a slaughter, the empire found what it had been searching for. Greatness wasn’t to be had in the use of overwhelming power, but in the restraint of the use of overwhelming power.
Lomax looked forward to his last days. He had no doubt that the empire was starting a new chapter in theirs – an enlightened chapter of peace and growth for the rest of his days, and – he hoped – many more.
The technician gave him the signal, and Lomax smiled. He took a breath and began.
“Citizens of the empire..."
To the readers - This is a good place to write "fin" as the empire moves away from conflict and pursues a more "customer-friendly" approach. I have enjoyed writing this story immensely. Thanks to those who assisted, and thanks to you for reading it as well. http://forum.shrapnelgames.com/images/smilies/smile.gif
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