Author Topic: Wings of Dawn Lore  (Read 8075 times)

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Offline Spoon

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Welcome to the WoD Lore thread, where Enioch of Rule the Waves fame is going to tell you official stories set in the WoDverse, that will have some tie-in with the story that's told in the game.
The majority of these stories will be set in a time before the events of Episode 1.

Updates will be done on an irregular basis. Whenever Enioch finds time in his busy life.

Table of Contents:



Here is a handy table to see how the ranks mentioned in the stories correspond to their real life counterparts.

Real Life Rank
Delest Rank
CRF Rank
Fleet Admiral (OF-10)
High Executor
Arc Champion
Admiral (OF-9)
Praetor
Champion
Vice Admiral (OF-8)
Ter-Judicator
Paladin
Rear Admiral (OF-7/6)
Re-Arurior
High Knight
Captain(OF-5)
Arurior
Commodore
Commander (OF-4)
Ter-Iio
Knight
Lieutenant Commander (OF-3)
Iio
Knight Lieutenant
Lieutenant (OF-2)
Leytenant
Lieutenant
« Last Edit: August 27, 2017, 05:23:49 am by Spoon »
Urutorahappī!!

[02:42] <@Axem> spoon somethings wrong
[02:42] <@Axem> critically wrong
[02:42] <@Axem> im happy with these missions now
[02:44] <@Axem> well
[02:44] <@Axem> with 2 of them

 

Offline Enioch

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Chapter 1: Beautiful Terconia


The Terconia Campaign
A   W i n g s   o f   D a w n   S t o r y



Imagine a diamond-clear starfield, endless and beautiful. Populate it with glorious nebulas, distant suns and the band of the Milky Way. Try (you will fail, but at least try) to imagine its vastness – and your place in it.

Now, in this infinite backdrop, place beautiful Terconia, with her two suns. See the flaming yellow mass of Terconia Secundus above you; feel the absurd heat and power of the cosmic furnace slam into you. Look away, blinded by the foreign sun. Let your hurting eyes fall on the small disk of Terconia Prime, more than a thousand million miles away. Try to imagine how it would feel to be as close to the blue supergiant as you are to the yellow dwarf. Avert your eyes.

Look down, and see Hōseki. A blue world. A beautiful world. See the sunlight on her oceans. See the string-of-pearls of the city lights on her night-side coastlines. See clouds racing each other around her equator.

See the light of Secundus reflecting off the thousands of small, insignificant satellites that Man has given her.

See the sleek, predatory shapes manoeuvre on their thrusters to enter orbit, shuttling like hornets around their nest.
 
War has come to beautiful Terconia.



There is, arguably, nothing worse for a military commander than to be just good enough to realise that your position is untenable but not capable enough to find a way to somehow turn the situation on its head. Newly-promoted Praetor Ishiro Dyatlov could feel it in his bones and his mood was black as death.

His death, surely. Or the imminent death of the men and women under his command. For, in truth, given the intelligence and information he was privy to, there was little he felt he could do to prevail under the current circumstances.

The Dynasty would lose a Core World for the first time since its founding; and he would be forever remembered as the one who had failed.

Not for the first time, he glanced ‘out’ of the simulated window on the wall of his private quarters and bitterly cursed the probe that had picked up the undiscovered Starlance in Terconia’s turbulent Oort cloud. And then, for good measure and with all the pathos of a frustrated Delest, he laid a tenfold curse on the random stellar and gravitational eddy that had, sometime during the creation of the Universe, linked that Starlance with the system that would become what was known today as the fortified New British outpost of Andor III.

Overnight, Terconia had changed from one of the safest Delest Core Worlds (Hōseki was a crèche world, for the Emperor’s sake!) to a border system. A border system that, if lost, could give the Limeys a four-Starlance path to Ihefulian (Unacceptable). A border system that, if lost, would mean a loss of incubators and embryos like nothing the Delest had ever seen before (Unthinkable!). Dyatlov was natural-born himself and he was not encoded with the behavioural triggers that would send cold-shivers down the spine of any vat-grown Delest at the mere idea of danger towards the precious, precious incubation facilities; but he was Delest nonetheless and the thought of an entire unborn generation lost forever because of his failure…

It loomed in the back of his mind and sanity like an unformed, black monster.

Again, again he called up his forces’ composition on his desk’s holoscreen, in search of something that he could use to flip the tables. Again he fought the near-irresistible urge to scream as he browsed his subordinates’ reports and the patchwork abomination that was his fleet’s ship listing.

On the top of the list (and thank the Emperor for small favours), his core force: twelve Volyas, all less than two years old, big and nasty and in excellent condition. What was less excellent was that only six of those ships (including his flagship, Michiko) had been with him since his not-so-distant service as the CO of the 5th Frontier Fleet. The rest of his battle-line was cobbled together from what capital ships the various Home Fleets could spare, always subject to the ‘gentle’ prompting of their patrons from the different Delest family Branches. That practice, in itself, was a disaster: Dyatlov could not fault those Branches that had deployed Volyas under his command, but, still, these were ships that had never worked with his fleet before; that came with their own commanders (and whatever baggage that implied) and that had to be hammered into a cohesive fighting force on the eleventh hour.

Dyatlov could (and did, in the privacy of his own mind) fault those Branches that had chosen to deploy aging Vernost-class battleships, or (Emperor forbid!) outright obsolete Zhizn-class monitors, while holding their Volyas in reserve (allegedly for their own systems’ defence, or for ‘necessary, scheduled maintenance’). It was painfully obvious, of course, that the most capable ships were being hoarded by the various factions; and that they were intended to be used during the inevitable infighting and power-plays that any competent politician could sense building up behind the scenes of Vladimir Yama Delest’s Imperial Court. That, however, still left Dyatlov with what he had come to generously refer to as the ‘Support Battle-Line’ in his Staff meetings (because ‘The Scrapheap’ would have indubitably caused morale problems): sixteen old capitals, in various stages of disrepair, with crews of indifferent quality at best and, of course, assembled from different units and fields of operations.

Then, less than two dozen cruisers (and most of them, thankfully, from his old 5th Fleet command): Five Grazdhanin heavy cruisers (glorious, glorious ships, what he couldn’t do with five more of those) and seven Zarya-class point-defence vessels, followed by a patchwork gathering of old hulls and Delest Branch contributions that he wished he could say he could have done without (unfortunately, he couldn’t; he needed every hull and body he could throw at the enemy, even if said hull was a leaking twenty-year-old tub). One notable exception was the sensor- and electronic warfare cruiser Orakul, generously attached to his command by the Imube Branch; it was now the apple of Dyatlov’s eye.

He was still undecided on his destroyer and frigate squadrons. Escort ships had yet to prove themselves in a fleet battle; but Dyatlov could see the benefit in having them present to guard his flanks, or detaching them to strike at targets of opportunity. If only there was any cohesiveness in his light forces’ equipment, doctrine or morale. Some of his ships came from fleets where escort vessels were thought to be useless cannon fodder and a low-responsibility dumping ground, with all that this implied for their crew quality and morale. Others came from jeune école-like fleets; and their officers and crew were confident in their belief that they were God’s gift to their Admiral and the key, indispensable element around which all strategy and tactics should be woven. In short, a headache Dyatlov could have done without.

No, no he couldn’t, he growled to himself internally. He needed the ships.

Emperor, but he was tired.

Dyatlov extinguished his display and leaned back on his chair with a drawn-out sigh, his hands rubbing his eyes. No stroke of genius, then. No inspired insight or masterplan out of the blue. Nothing to help him deal with the inbound CRF juggernaut beyond what was already on the table.

Small surprise there. Alright then. What was on the table and how could he best leverage it against that demon, French?



Arc Champion Julius French laid his dataslate on the table with a sharp click and glanced up at his Staff and commanders.

"Ladies and Gentlemen," he said, calmly, "I have just received word from the Admiralty to go to high alert. Barring any significant changes in the diplomatic situation, an ultimatum is expected to be delivered to the Delest within the next twenty-four hours. By this time tomorrow, we may be at war."

There was a lot of murmuring; some muted cheers from the far-side of the table; grins and smiles all around.

"Yes, yes, Deus Vult and so forth, we are all very happy at the chance of giving Johnny Delest another damn thrashing," French flatly said, his fingers tapping at the table. Silence immediately fell once more. "I would prefer it, however, if we could refrain from any premature celebrations. We are proposing to invade a Core Delest holding for the first time in recorded history and if you are still, somehow, after all my efforts to disabuse you of this notion, thinking that this is going to be anything like the border skirmishes of our last scrap with our dear neighbours, I fear you will be unpleasantly surprised."

His eyes did not linger on any officer in particular, but there were some who flinched noticeably and even some sheepish smiles. French made a mental note of names and postings and continued, his voice even.

"I am sure you are, by now, intimately familiar with the invasion plan as it currently stands. I will not insult or bore you by going through its intricacies again, but there are some points that I wanted to raise. Again, in some cases.

"First and foremost, BuInt remains consistently disappointing in its performance. I am sorry to say that we still have very little information regarding the enemy force composition. Intercepted communications indicate that they have deployed what they call the ‘10th Home Fleet’ in-theatre. There have been no references to this Fleet in the past, so it’s reasonably safe to assume that this is something that they have cobbled together for this emergency, either through levying forces from the various Delest Branches or through joining several understrength units together. In any case, they are likely to be out-massing us in absolute hull numbers, but their organisation will be sub-optimal, even for Delest, and they might have mobilised older, mothballed ships."

A brief touch of the holographic input panel in front of him; the room’s light dimmed and a blurry projection of Ishiro Dyatlov’s face sprang to life over the table.

"We have had one notable success: we managed to identify the enemy theatre CO. Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Ishiro Dyatlov, until recently the Ter-Judicator in command of their 5th Frontier Fleet. BuInt is, once again, drawing much more of a blank than I’d like. Apparently, this here fellow has had an uninspiring career so far; and yet, still, when facing this crisis, their Admiralty chooses to promote and assign him to defend a threatened Core World, over several more experienced and well-connected commanders. This either means that our dear, newly minted, Praetor Dyatlov has more political clout that we had realised with one or more of the Delest Branches; or that he’s a compromise solution, so as not to favour any particular Branch over others."

Knight Helena Featherstonehaugh of the Falchion raised her hand. "Or...that he’s that good, Sir? That they would ignore their internal rivalries to get the best man for the job in a crisis, I mean?"

French’s eyebrows rose an infinitesimal fraction of an Imperial inch and he conceded the point with a sharp nod. "A proverbial Dark Horse, you mean, Madam? That is possible, I must admit. However, it would imply that old Vladimir somehow found his brave pills and chose to stand up to his satraps. I find the possibility...distinctly unlikely. That said, this does bring us nicely into the next point I would like to raise.

Again, his fingers danced on the input panel. Dyatlov’s face flickered out; and a trio of heavy cruisers, easily identifiable as Grazhdanin-class took its place, floating gently over the polished mahogany of the Arc Champion’s table.

"These are the Volga, the Baikal and the Pamyat Slavy," he said, his face impassive but his voice grim – and suddenly he held the undivided attention of all veteran officers present. "And yes, those amongst you who served with me during the St. Helen incident are familiar with them. I have reports here that they were recently pulled out of their usual stations in the frontier regions, and given new postings – exactly where remains unknown. I am afraid that the establishment of this ‘10th Home Fleet’ during the same time period makes it highly likely that these cruisers were assigned to Dyatlov’s command. For those amongst you who were assigned to this fleet following the St. Helen deployment and who might not be aware, these are ships of the Ural Branch, crewed entirely by Yonsakuren."

Silence. Absolute silence. French glanced around, noted which faces were pale and which showed grim determination, gave a small nod and continued.

"I realise that this is grim news for most of you but, in all fairness, it would have been highly improbable for the Delest not to deploy some of their best fighting units in the defence of a Core holding. This also means that, even if Dyatlov is an utter disaster of a commander, he will still have ships and crews on-station that will be highly dangerous. Consider this a priority order for those among you who will be operating independently from the main fleet: if at any point you encounter these ships, you are to engage with extreme caution and signal for help, or outright disengage. I realise that there are many among you who would gladly seek out the honour of a Yonsakuren kill, but I warn all prospective glory-hounds right here, right now: I will have none of that in my fleet."

And, both his officers and French himself knew that he would have none of it. It had been firmly established in the past that it was worth more than one’s career to challenge a direct order from the Arc Champion.

"A final point and, possibly, the most important one," French stated after a few seconds of tense silence, apparently satisfied that he had gotten the message across. "As some of you might already be aware, we are receiving reinforcements. In six hours, a Pegasus Exarchate Task Force will arrive in Andor; and we are ordered to operate jointly with them for the invasion of Terconia."

A moment of stunned disbelief among his audience; and then, murmurs started. French continued without missing a beat.

"I am aware that this might somewhat affect our plans of operations, but for the time being, you should expect the first stages of or attack to go as planned, with the added benefit of available reinforcements and relief forces where and when-"

"With all due respect, Sir Champion," Paladin Orestes Attwood of the Repulse exclaimed, "What is going on?"

French's eyes snapped to his subordinate immediately, in incredulous surprise; his lips narrowed to a thin line. For a few seconds, his eyebrows twitched nervously; and then his right hand tightened into a white-knuckle fist.

"This is our operation," Paladin Attwood continued, his eyes darting around the table, seeking support from the other officers; and finding it, in nods and scattered 'hear hears!' "Your operation, Sir. You've spent weeks, months even, planning the invasion. We can do this without Pegasus - we were prepared to follow you in there without Pegasus five minutes ago and we're still prepared to do so. Sir, I've worked with Pegasus before -most of us here have- and, while I won't deny their skill in combat, it always ends the same way, with snide comments directed toward our tactics and behaviour, with orders being 'misunderstood', with fake apologies, frayed manners and tempers and with...aspersions cast on our honour and valour. Sir, in God's name, why does this need to happen? Is this political?"

The Paladin's pleading eyes finally returned to his commanding officer; only for French’s irate glare to pin Attwood to his seat like a butterfly on a piece of cork. To Attwood's credit, he maintained eye contact for several heartbeats, despite the drops of sweat slowly making their way down his brow and despite the efforts of the officers sitting next to him to gently lean out of the expected blast radius.

"It is a matter of courtesy not to interrupt one’s commanding officer, Sir Attwood," French finally said, his face an impassive mask of frozen lines, ice-blue eyes and white hair, "Rather ironic, given that you seem so eager to criticise the manners of his fellow Britons. I would suggest some time spent in prayer and meditation; meditation on the serious character fault of impatience and on the proper behaviour behooving a Paladin of Arc Victoria. As to your question, of course this is political."

The implied addition "-you fool!" was not spoken aloud, but it seeped out of the Arc Champion’s tone with every word, mixed with thinly-disguised contempt at the stupidity of the question.

"Pegasus wants to prove that they are as good as Arc Victoria and they cannot allow us to lay sole claim to Terconia’s resources. On the other hand, Arc Victoria has no excuse to deny Pegasus volunteers the opportunity to prove their fealty or honour in the field of battle without offering mortal insult to the Exarchate. And, frankly, Ladies and Gentlemen, we can ill afford to refuse their assistance, when they will, apparently, be bringing an additional eight Lord-class dreadnoughts to the fray against an enemy the capabilities of whom we have yet to probe.

"Do not misunderstand me – this is still an Arc Victoria operation and I intend to make this absolutely clear to the Pegasus commander, whomever they decide to send. You have my personal word of honour regarding this and I hope that this allays your fears. However, I wish to make absolutely clear that we will, in turn, be courteous and welcoming of the Pegasus forces and we will be granting to them the respect they deserve as our compatriots and as members of the Nobility and Knighthood of New Britannia. I will not tolerate any outbursts like that of Paladin Attwood that might cast the slightest stain of dishonour on our chivalry and embarrass us. Am I understood?"

He was.

"Are there, perchance, any further objections?"

There weren’t.

"Dismissed."

'Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent'  -Salvor Hardin, "Foundation"

So don't take a hammer to your computer. ;-)

 

Offline Enioch

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Buh...wuh?

I'm awake, I'mawake.

Yeah. Uuuummm. Thanks to Spoon-sempai for letting me write words for his universe. These are apparently canon now, so....uh. Yeah.  :nervous: He says he likes them, but he might be lying to spare my feelings (because he's a kind and considerate Spoon-sempai) and that's why I have the shrine set up in my basement.

These should be weekly updates, but I can't guarantee that something RL won't take precedence.
'Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent'  -Salvor Hardin, "Foundation"

So don't take a hammer to your computer. ;-)

 

Offline The E

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Buh...wuh?

I'm awake, I'mawake.

Yeah. Uuuummm. Thanks to Spoon-sempai for letting me write words for his universe. These are apparently canon now, so....uh. Yeah.  :nervous: He says he likes them, but he might be lying to spare my feelings (because he's a kind and considerate Spoon-sempai) and that's why I have the shrine set up in my basement.

These should be weekly updates, but I can't guarantee that something RL won't take precedence.

Dude. Don't worry, these are fine words. Very Weber-esque (in the best way). Me like.
**** every cause that ends in murder and children crying. ― Iain Banks
Join the fun at the HLP IRC channel. Get the latest spam and gossip as long as it's fresh!

 

Offline Lorric

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Re: Chapter 1: Beautiful Terconia
Why do I get the nasty feeling my beloved CRF is going to be on the wrong end of one almighty ass kicking at the hands of the DD... :nervous:

I will be shocked if it doesn't happen. The DD has already been painted as the clear underdog here, even before we take into account who the writer is. I think it will either happen immediately, happen after some initial CRF success, or (and the way I would try to do it if I was wanting to weave a DD victory story from this start point) after the CRF have had a series of great victories and pushed deep into DD space, putting the DD's very existence in dire peril, that's when the almighty ass kicking gets dished out and the CRF invasion is utterly destroyed.

Thanks to Spoon-sempai for letting me write words for his universe. These are apparently canon now, so....uh. Yeah.  :nervous: He says he likes them, but he might be lying to spare my feelings (because he's a kind and considerate Spoon-sempai) and that's why I have the shrine set up in my basement.

I've seen Spoon dish out both praise and criticism, and he's probably as straight a shooter in that department as we have around here, so I wouldn't worry about that.

See the flaming yellow mass of Terconia Secundus above you; feel the absurd heat and power of the cosmic furnace slam into you. Look away, blinded by the foreign sun. Let your hurting eyes

No! :p

 

Offline Enioch

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Why do I get the nasty feeling my beloved CRF is going to be on the wrong end of one almighty ass kicking at the hands of the DD... :nervous:

I will be shocked if it doesn't happen. The DD has already been painted as the clear underdog here, even before we take into account who the writer is. I think it will either happen immediately, happen after some initial CRF success, or (and the way I would try to do it if I was wanting to weave a DD victory story from this start point) after the CRF have had a series of great victories and pushed deep into DD space, putting the DD's very existence in dire peril, that's when the almighty ass kicking gets dished out and the CRF invasion is utterly destroyed.

Quote
The DD has already been painted as the clear underdog here, even before we take into account who the writer is.

I'll let Spoon-sempai decide how much spoilery information he wants to reveal as teasers (because, and I need to make this clear, this is his plotline, like everything else that I will be writing). For now, I'll only say: "For shame. Give me some credit for impartiality."  :nono:

And stop fishing for info. :P

See the flaming yellow mass of Terconia Secundus above you; feel the absurd heat and power of the cosmic furnace slam into you. Look away, blinded by the foreign sun. Let your hurting eyes

No! :p

Listen, young man, you will look where I tell you and like it. :hopping:
'Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent'  -Salvor Hardin, "Foundation"

So don't take a hammer to your computer. ;-)

 

Offline Lorric

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I wasn't actually fishing for info, just speculating. I appreciate that clarification though, I thought Spoon had just let you loose essentially.

I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes though, even if it does indeed involve the CRF taking a beating. I enjoy your work very much, this is going to enrich the Spooniverse considerably I think. :)

 

Offline Spoon

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I'll let Spoon-sempai decide how much spoilery information he wants to reveal as teasers
None whatsoever!
Speculate away!
Urutorahappī!!

[02:42] <@Axem> spoon somethings wrong
[02:42] <@Axem> critically wrong
[02:42] <@Axem> im happy with these missions now
[02:44] <@Axem> well
[02:44] <@Axem> with 2 of them

 

Offline Enioch

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17-year-old Midshipwoman Juliette Landsgrave decided that she was going to take this punishment in stride, as was to be expected from any Officer and Lady in the service of Their Majesties’ Fleet (she was no Lady from a legal standpoint yet; that would only come if she passed the Examinations and became a Lieutenant or if, God willing, she drew the attention of a Knight of the Realm and was dubbed a Squire – but, until then, she would bloody well act like one!)

So, she would wear her dress Whites. And play honour guard to whatever posh tosser Pegasus decided to send their way. And stand there in nice, orderly ranks with her fellow midshipmen in the cavernous hangar bay of the Nelson as the Pegasus shuttle punched through the atmospheric forcefield and coasted to a gentle landing. And even suffer through the fifing of that utter pillock, McFarland.

But God these shoes hurt like iron maidens.

"Hey, July," she heard Ranger's low voice from behind her and her eyes shifted slightly. "Hey. Four Imperials say it's Forsythe." 

A low groan from her right; Seymour Holborn stood in rigid attention but his rolling eyes still communicated his utter revulsion at the idea. "God, I hope not," he muttered. "They should have put him out to pasture a decade ago. I swear, if it's him, old French will have an aneurism."

"Shut up, all of you," came the snappy admonishment from Her Divine Majesty, Lady of All she Surveys, Smug ***** Extraordinaire Clara Settwee, First Midshipwoman of the Nelson. "Also, Ranger, you're on. Four Imps say it's Simmons."

"Guard - ATTEN-HUT," came the call from Master-at-Arms Vinter and a few hundred feet stomped on the deck. Landsgrave winced as pain shot up her leg. Further to the right, she could see a small detachment of Marines, in their ceremonial red coats presenting arms.

The shuttle doors slid to the side; and, after a few heartbeats, a small figure emerged, straigthening his own dress Whites as he went. Landsgrave heard Ranger curse softly behind her; and she could already imagine Settwee's smug, infernally punchable face as His Grace, Pegasus Champion Paul Simmons (Fourth Lord Simmons, Earl of New Westford, Knight of the Realm, Member of the Order of Merit etc etc.) came to attention and exchanged salutes with ol' French.

And then, the Pegasus Champion stepped aside and saluted again; and Landsgrave's breath hitched in her throat as a second figure emerged from the shuttle; this one tall and considerably more feminine.

"Well bugger me sideways," she heard Settwee gasp and for once in her life, Landsgrave felt like fully agreeing with her.

For the woman who had just stepped out of the shuttle with a gentle smile and immaculate Whites was Her Grace Aretha; High Lady of the Realm; Eighth Exarch of Renkin and current High Mistress under God and King of the House of Pegasus.

Midshipwoman Landsgrave, being by all accounts (including her own) a savvy girl and having a pretty good idea of what ol' French would think of this development, could only bring herself to mutter a laconic expression of her discomfort, in anticipation of what she could only assume would be difficult days ahead.

"Oh, bollocks."

And her ****ing shoes were still torture.



You could cut the tension with a knife during the regal dinner, where the usual platitudes were exchanged and the appropriate jingoistic sentiments were expressed but where no matters of essence were discussed; and you would probably need a rather sharper implement to cut the tension during the after-dinner Port, when Victoria and Pegasus officers exchanged condescending looks and pointed comments. Throughout it all, Arc Champion Julius French and Exarch Aretha Pegasus were the epitome of icy politeness, maintaining (with timely enforced changes of topic and the occasional glare) an iron grip on their subordinates' manners, at least superficially.

And when the Port had made its round and the Loyal Toast was toasted, it did not take long for the Champion to invite the Exarch to adjourn for refreshments in private; or, indeed, for the rest of the officers to also leave the Nelson's officers' mess, huddled in groups of Victoria and Pegasus personnel and commenting (perhaps a bit more loudly than their relatively minor inebriation could excuse) on those oh-so-evident lapses of their opposing numbers' manners.

Meanwhile, in the Arc Champion's quarters, coffee and liquors were served (coffee, black for the Exarch; a small glass of grappa for the Champion); the stewards withdrew; and the two commanders enjoyed a few seconds of silence, before French leaned slightly forward in his seat, laid his glass on the low coffee table between the two and brought his hands together on his knees.

"Well," he said, his voice expressionless but not outright cold, "this is certainly irregular."

Exarch Aretha raised an impeccably made-up eyebrow over her coffee cup, her face framed by her auburn hair. "Unusual, certainly," she conceded with a half-smile. "But, surely, not irregular, Sir Champion. I assume, of course, that you are referring to my assuming the command of the Pegasus forces?"

"Indeed," French said. "Frankly, I was expecting one of your Champions, Your Grace. It is hardly expected of an Exarch to lead their troops in combat anymore."

"In Arc Victoria, perhaps," Aretha replied, and her lips twitched in a way that might indicate a degree of condescension. "I am sure that Their Majesties have more important business to attend to. But I can hardly delegate something of this importance to others. In Pegasus, at least, Exarchs are expected to share some of the danger of the battlefield."

French's eyes flashed up sharply "I see. Well, there's going to be quite a lot of danger, I can assure you. You do realise that I cannot guarantee your safety, if you choose to lead from the front?"

"How chivalrous," Aretha retorted with a smile. "You are not expected to guarantee any such thing, of course. Neither by me nor by my subordinates."

French leaned back with a nod of acknowledgment. "Still; I would have preferred to have known much earlier. You have received the briefing documents I forwarded to your forces, I'm sure, but it would only have made things easier if we had more time to discuss the overall invasion strategy and the specific battle-plans."

"I will grant you that, Sir Champion," Aretha said with a small laugh. "I truly am sorry for causing you this much trouble; I am sure you are quite overhelmed by having to deal with your own forces already and the last thing you needed was more trouble. However, our negotiations with Their Majesties to arrange for our presence here took up more time than I had originally planned for."

This time, French's eyebrows came together and his fingers tightened on his glass; but good manners prevailed again. "I appreciate the sentiment. I assume you have gone through the briefing documents?"

"I have indeed. In general, I found your invasion plan to be ingenious and most of my Staff, including Champion Simmons, agree; Arc Victoria is justified to be proud of your skill as a fleet commander," Aretha smiled and sipped some more of her coffee. "There are some aspects of it that I find, frankly, sub-optimal but they do not detract from the worth of the whole."

The clack of French's glass on the table sounded like a gunshot. "Your Grace," he said, his face an expressionless mask, "I would be most grateful if you could elaborate on that statement."

"I am referring to your apparent focus on the preservation of the Delest infrastructure," Aretha replied in a matter-of-fact voice. "You acknowledge the danger of allowing the two starbases that are currently under construction in Terconia to be completed. You acknowledge that the orbital shipyards will be a major help to the Delest in keeping their damaged ships into the fray. And yet your plan calls for a cautious - perhaps too cautious advance, which will preserve these structures and most of the asteroid mining platforms at the cost of increased casualties on both sides."

"I am aware of the risk to my ships and crews," French countered,"but I will not gift my King and Queen with a burnt-out wasteland. If the annexation of Terconia is to be viable in the mid- to long-term, some of the Delest infrastructure in-system needs to be preserved; or Terconia will be a massive drain of resources instead of an asset."

"An asset to Arc Victoria, you mean?" Aretha asked and, for the first time, her voice carried more than a hint of hostility.

"An asset to New Britannia," came the immediate answer.

"I see." Aretha's smile and narrowed eyes looked much less accommodating now. "You do realise, of course, that I object against any plans that will needlessly endanger the lives of my ships and personnel?"

"I would be happy to log your objection, your grace," French scowled, "should any such plans need to be implemented. For now, however, I believe all risk inherent to my overall strategy to be necessary."

"I disagree," Aretha countered, her voice cold, "and so do my advisors. With our numerical and qualitative superiority, our projections show that the optimal way to proceed would be to seek out a decisive battle, perhaps even over the Hōseki orbitals. A new Trafalgar, as it were, to completely eradicate the system defenses-"

"-and give the Delest garrisons time to plant demolition charges and scorch the entire system behind them as soon as they realise that the battle is lost. Unacceptable," French interrupted, his tone angry, "and indicative of a focus on tactical over strategic victory. No, Your Grace, we will follow the plan as laid out by my Staff and myself."

"Typical," Aretha shrugged softly and returned to her coffee. "Well, far be it from me to tell you how to run your fleet. We will, of course, provide support where possible, but be aware that my first priority is to preserve my crews, not squander them so that Arc Victoria can lay claim to yet another God-forsaken asteroid mine."

"I will keep that in mind when determining the Pegasus deployments, Your Grace" French replied, slightly more than a hint of sarcasm in his voice. His hand reached for his glass again.

"...I'm sorry?" Aretha looked up, sharply.

"I said that I will seek to keep your wishes in mind when I determine how the Pegasus forces are best to be deployed," French said, his eyebrow arcing over the rim of his glass.

"...Oh. Oh dear," Aretha exclaimed, apparently worried. "There seems to be a misunderstanding."

"How so?"

"Well, Sir Champion..." and Aretha's gentle smile had just a hint of dry humour in it, "you have no say in how my forces will be deployed. I'd be happy to discuss things with you, of course, to provide as much help as I-"

"What."

French's expression was a kaleidoscope of emotions, none of them particularly positive ones. There was some shock; and anger; and, primarily, sheer incredulity. Aretha, on the other hand, seemed perfectly at ease.

"My forces are not under your command, Sir Champion. They are under mine. 'My' forces, you see? And I am not eager to squander my dreadnoughts as nannies for Marine boarding detachments."

French unfolded off his seat like the wrath of God. In all honesty, his greying mid-length hair, magnificent sideburns and bristling eyebrows did lend him an air of considerable gravitas.

"Madam," he said in a low growl, his hands clenching into fists, "I am the senior commander in this theatre of operations, answering directly to Their Majesties and the War Department, and by God you will follow my orders."

"How quaint," Aretha replied, leaving her cup on the table, "I was about to say something along the same lines. Well, I wasn't going to ask you to follow my orders, of course - you are an Arc Champion, after all. But I am the Exarch of Pegasus and I'm not part of your chain of command, Sir Champion. Nor are my ships and crews."

"Your forces have been assigned to my fleet as support elements-"

"Not so," Aretha interrupted. "I am here under orders from Their Majesties to provide support and relief where it is deemed necessary and you can rest assured, Sir Champion, that I fully intend to do so. But my task force is an independent command, recognised as such by Their Majesties. I'd be happy to forward you my deployment orders and you may peruse them at your leisure."

"This is preposterous!"

"This war is preposterous, Sir Champion," Aretha replied; and her voice was cold steel. "Pegasus did not wish for this war. It is not our economy that suffers, or our people who live under the spectre of unemployment and poverty. It is not we who need to shift into a war economy or seek out Delest spoils like starving jackals. We are still here, helping Arc Victoria out, because it is our duty as loyal Britons. But as long as we are here, we will conduct ourselves as we see fit and seek battle as we see fit. If Arc Victoria wishes to have Terconia and her riches, then let her, I say. Pegasus will be satisfied with victory and glory on the battlefield. Under our own banner."

French staggered back under her words as if he'd received a physical blow; but he rallied, drawing himself up again.

"Your Grace, you are jeopardising this entire operation and, by extension, your own forces. I have more than thirty years of experience as a battlefield commander-."

"So does my own Champion Simmons," Aretha countered hotly and French winced at the interruption, but kept on.

"-and seeking out a decisive battle at this point would be a disastrous mistake. We need to advance cautiously; we need to choke Dyatlov out, deprive him of his assets; not kick his door down and fight him in his own house where he holds all the cards."

"I am no fool, Sir Champion," Aretha said, contemptuously. "I do not propose to run my fleet down a Delest gauntlet. I can wait and pick my fight. And, when the hostilities begin and we take our ships through that Starlance, I will help you where I can. But when the time comes, I will seek out the enemy and blow them out of the sky, instead of inching forward from one barren space-rock to the next. I hope that, when that time comes, you make the right choice."

French, by this point, had gone past apoplectic rage and into the still waters of the other end. "Madam," he said, slowly descending into his seat once more, "I will ask you once again. In the name of God and all that is good and right, will you follow my orders?"

Aretha bestowed upon him a pitying look; not unkind, but sad. "Yes, Sir Champion," she answered, softly, after a few moments of silence. "I will follow your orders - those that I can agree with and no others."

"Then God help you Madam," French replied, his eyes blazing and his voice a low growl, "for you have taken yourself and yours beyond my help."


« Last Edit: April 21, 2017, 01:18:08 pm by Enioch »
'Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent'  -Salvor Hardin, "Foundation"

So don't take a hammer to your computer. ;-)

 

Offline Lorric

  • 211
So who is right? What is the goal of this conflict? It looks like it's just an opportunistic grab for a valuable system in which case Arc Victoria would appear to be right, otherwise what's the point? If the higher goal is hurting Delest though Pegasus would appear to be right. Ordinarily you'd want to end a war quickly and decisively. Especially when the CRF and the DD aren't the only players in the game. They'd love to see the DD and CRF grind each other down and turn Terconia into Stalingrad. So I'd like more information, but I'm leaning more towards Pegasus being right here. Expend minimal resources taking Terconia. If the system's worth having it's worth rebuilding if necessary. If not, it's not worth fighting over if Delest going scorched earth essentially makes the operation a failure. And Delest would surely figure it out for themselves too after a while and use that to their advantage. So yes, I think Pegasus is right based on what I know right now. If the system isn't worth having without the Delest infrastructure intact, better not to go in at all and instead lean on Delest and get a favorable peace agreement. Possibly leaning on them could include trashing the place to get them to the table.

 

Offline Thisisaverylongusername

  • 27
  • Your Friendly Neighborhood Lurker
French = Severanti
Aretha = Steele

... I couldn't help myself.  :p
If the opposite of pro is con, then is the opposite of progress Congress?

 

Offline Lorric

  • 211
The more I think about this the more I think French's strategy seems foolish. This was a core system. It's suddenly no longer one. It's not going to have a deep defence, and the CRF should be coming in hard and fast. It's also extremely valuable to the Delest, they'll feed in more and more forces as time goes on, the CRF need to clear the system and secure the starlance/s.

I'm also wondering about the Delest people in the system. If they're vat-grown, won't that mean they are compelled to resist? I don't see how the CRF is taking the system without exterminating the whole population. Then they'll have to bring in their own people, and that seems like it would dwarf the expenses of rebuilding a handful of space installations.

 

Offline Enioch

  • 210
  • Alternative History Word Writer
As was eloquently said by our kind producer:

Speculate away!

And, from a personal standpoint #activediscussionmakestheauthorhappy.

I can and will answer this, though, because it's sorta-kinda basic universe 'knowledge' and not exclusive to this plotline:

If they're vat-grown, won't that mean they are compelled to resist?

Vat-grown loyalty to the Emperor/Empress is near-absolute, from what I've been given to understand. Add to that the desire to protect the vat facilities in Hoseki and you would have, indeed, a major part of the population (not the entirety of the population, mind you) being as fanatically resistant to occupation as you can get.

That doesn't mean that the authorities won't give the order to evacuate the system if the war takes a turn for the worst. Vat-grown civilians and soldiers represent a major investment of time and resources on behalf of the government (and on behalf of their clans / Branches / families). Moral issues aside, it would be stupid to order them to die if the system is clearly lost. Better arrange for a surrender and a population evacuation under flag of truce.
'Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent'  -Salvor Hardin, "Foundation"

So don't take a hammer to your computer. ;-)

 

Offline Lorric

  • 211
Hmmm. That makes me think it must be a lot more expensive than I thought to pump them out. I thought the facilities would be extremely valuable but the people themselves would be basically expendable drones not worth the expense of shipping out as well as the expense that accomodating an enormous influx of people into new areas would bring.

 

Offline Enioch

  • 210
  • Alternative History Word Writer
Vat-grown people are far from drones. Many of them are indistinguishable from natural born at first glance.

Growing someone in a vat grants two major benefits, which make the vat facilities invaluable: first, you accelerate growth massively. The best vat facilities can grow a person from zygote to 18-year-old-equivalent maturity in 2 years. Of course, granting such a person the skill, experience and social savvy of a natural-born and -grown person is tricky and expensive (and in some cases flat-out impossible); and young vat-grown people can be...childish in some ways, despite looking like they're young adults. Which is why they usually start off from low-responsibility positions and move up.

The second benefit is that you make young people when the government thinks it needs young people. The Delest have, by definition, no demographical problems.

The vat-grown people might be, in average, less creative than natural borns  (because imagination and blind loyalty don't mix too well) but they're not meat robots.
'Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent'  -Salvor Hardin, "Foundation"

So don't take a hammer to your computer. ;-)

 

Offline Lorric

  • 211
It seems like their role is to be mindraped drones essentially though, when they need to be. Their role in life is predetermined and so are even their actions. They are further robbed of a childhood and 16 years (at least) of lifespan to be put to work right away. Their lives belong to someone else. Literally mind, body and soul.

 

Offline Enioch

  • 210
  • Alternative History Word Writer
And this is where I think it's best I stop responding on this particular topic because these themes, in particular, might (or might not) be better explored in a future lore story or in WoD.2 proper and I don't want to spoil things as per producer-set guidelines.  :P
'Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent'  -Salvor Hardin, "Foundation"

So don't take a hammer to your computer. ;-)

 

Offline Enioch

  • 210
  • Alternative History Word Writer
Chapter 3, Part 1: Fire in the Sky


This particular part of empty space in Terconia's Oort cloud was indistinguishable from any other empty patch of nothingness - at least to the naked eye. The nearest idle ball of rock and ice that might, someday, under the gravitic influence of a passing celestial body, become a comet orbited the binary system more than a hundred thousand kilometres away.

You would be excused for not noticing the presence of the little, ominous, black spheres, lying in homicidal wait for trespassers. They were, after all, made with stealth in mind. You would also be excused for missing the three ships, concealed behind the nearby comet. Two of them were small, sleek and predatory, almost hugging the ball of ice. The third was almost twice their size; and she was beautiful in her own way. Unlike the warships, she did not promise speed or violence; but a glittering tracery of metal, glass and plastic extended around her and beyond the comet's concealing shadow. She was Orakul and she was an infinitely delicate artificial ear pressed against the barriers between dimensions.

She listened; she picked up the tremors; she felt the unseen enemy's presence draw ever nearer, from the direction-that-is-not-a-direction. Thin communication lasers stabbed out toward her escorts; the warships responded and came to life, gently coasting off the comet on reaction thrusters and forming up on their ward.

The wait is over. The time is now.

The barriers between dimensions break; a hundred thousand kilometres away, a glowing rift splits space itself. Orakul turns her sensor arrays toward the portal, like a stag turning his head to show off his antlers to the skulking predator. She listens.

A flood of EM radiation spills out of the portal. Subspace static, mixed with shield and drive signatures; sublight radar; sensor pings and active scanners, as whatever is hiding in subspace tries to get an idea of what is waiting for it outside. Orakul and her escorts do not stir. They are well-hidden and confident that they lie beyond the enemy's sight. Orakul lies still; and watches.

Something material breaks through the portal; a long cylinder, riding a thin thruster of white flame, moving fast and still accellerating. It is followed by another. And another. And ten more. And then hundreds. Orakul sees them all; tracks them; follows the course of each and every one as they blossom out and scatter among the waiting black spheres, who will now never have the chance to-

Light.

The minefield erupts in apocalyptic fury. Missiles and mines annihilate each other in mass chain reactions. And, through it all, missiles continue to pour out of the Starlance, in successive waves, carving a path for the fleet that is still waiting in the safety of subspace.

Orakul lies still; and watches.

Finally, the bombardment ceases. A brief moment of respite and the portal flickers; and then several small vessels break through. Orakul focuses on them with her long-range optics, records their IFFs and drive signatures with her passive EM sensors, consults her vast databanks and identifies them as the 5th ArcVic Destroyer squadron, operating the new Block II Cavaliers. The CRF Destroyers adopt a loose formation and begin sweeping the Starlance for any surviving mines and suspicious debris with their point-defense clusters.

Then, the first capital ships slip into realspace, through their own individual portals. Orakul turns her attention to them; and her sensors are immediately retracted as far back behind the cover of the asteroid as possible without compromising her capability to overlook the starlance.

These are Dukes; and, as their modified silhouette and relatively sluggish movement shows, they've been fitted with hangars. It is only a matter of time before-

And, yes, here come the strikecraft. Rather distant for certain optical identification, but drive signatures correspond to Firefly-class scout fighters. One squadron stays with the motherships; two more begin an ever-widening sweep of the Starlance, picking off isolated surviving mines where possible.

Well, there are several more enemy eyes on the battlefield and the game of hide-and-seek has become considerably more dangerous; but the sensor suite of a fighter cannot compare to that of the Orakul. She will see them coming. And they will be coming; there is no way the CRF will not be investigating the closest Oort asteroids for Delest listening posts.

But, until then, Orakul and her escorts will remain on-station, waiting, waiting for the moment when-

Jackpot.

The main portal flares; and a massive capital ship begins its realspace transition. Orakul focuses her sensors on the CRF giant and her crew work frantically on her data and analysis banks. The hull is almost immediately identified as a Lord class ship; then weapon emplacements are factored in; the drive signature is analysed; her shielding frequencies are recorded against the etheric background radiation. Within three minutes, the probability that the Dreadnought is the recently commissioned HMS Rodney is estimated to be 92%.

Then a new ship breaks through to realspace on her own portal; and another; and the Orakul analysts get truly busy.

HMS Revenge - 87%
HMS Thunder - 85%
HMS Invincible - 94%
HMS Royal Oak - 68%
HMS Avalon - 76%

And they keep coming, Dreadnought after Dreadnought after Dreadnought. And Orakul keeps up her silent vigil. And the CRF fighter patrol draws closer, ever closer.



"Praetor, I would like an explanation," Governor Bao Zhai said, his voice tinged with equal notes of anger and concern.

Dyatlov stood in a loose approximation of parade rest before the three figures lounging in comfortable chairs in the Governor's observation deck, on board the orbital station Diamond 1. The crescent of Hōseki dominated the sky above them; Secundus was about to set on the far side of the planet and the light refracting on the atmosphere painted the station a ruby red, as it slipped into the planet's penumbra.

"His Excellency the Governor need only ask and I shall endeavour to clarify matters to the best of my abilities," Dyatlov replied, not allowing any of his exasperation to show. He should be on board the Michiko, waiting for news from the Orakul, not here, apparently defending his actions (and himself) so far above his paygrade.

"I'm sure that we'd all like to hear what you have to say," the Governor said, leaning forward, "regarding your actions in defense of this system so far. Or should I say your inaction."

"Your Excellency?" Dyatlov allowed his head to tilt slightly to the side. "I am not sure I understand."

"Oh, come now, Praetor!" the young man to the Governor's right said, his voice calm and, for a lack of a better term, dry and crackling. "We don't have the time for this and your attempts at verbal jousting are pathetic and, frankly, slightly insulting."

Dyatlov repressed a shudder. Out of the three people opposite him, Ivan Nakayama was the one he wished to have the least possible amount of interaction with. One of the youngest scions of the Nakayama family, he was rumoured to be the bastard offspring of an affair between his mother and a minor Delest noble; he was deeply involved in running his family's orbital mining megacorporation; and he could easily make-or-break the career of an officer with Dyatlov's lack of political backing. Dyatlov knew that, arguably, he would be better served by keeping Nakayama happy rather than the Governor.

"It was not my intention to be disingenuous or offer insult," Dyatlov said, making his tone as apologetic as possible. "However, I do require His Excellency to be more specific. My current plan to defend Terconia is a multi-layered one and I am unsure as to which aspect in particular has apparently met with His Excellency's ire."

"Our concern, Praetor," Lady Aiko Imube Delest interjected with a smile, making a genteel, gesture that encompassed the other two officials and herself, "is that your fleet remains in orbit over Hōseki and other capital installations. You have shown no intention to contest the enemy at the Starlance or done...well, anything really. You can understand that we are highly concerned. We are no strategists, but surely it would make sense to intercept the enemy at the Starlance bottleneck, whenever they arrive?"

Dyatlov slumped slightly. "I see, My Lady," he said, with a bow. "Many thanks for the clarification. With your permission, I would like to explain."

"Proceed, Praetor," Nakayama said, "And this had better be good. And brief."

"Understood." Dyatlov took a moment to gather his thoughts. "Firstly - I believe there's a misunderstanding about a Starlance's nature, from a strategic perspective, at least. A Starlance...well, it is not a chokepoint, in the traditional sense. A chokepoint allows the attacker to channel a limited portion of their forces against the defender; therefore, it makes sense for the defender to force a confrontation there. A Starlance..."

His posture loosened somewhat; his right hand moved in a "so-so" gesture.

"...well, frankly, there is nothing to prevent the attacker from massing their entire fleet in Subspace and translate into realspace as one concentrated force. True, we'll know where they'll appear but we can do nothing to achieve superiority in numbers or firepower. Quite the opposite, in fact."

Nakayama was sitting, stony faced; Bao Zhai was listening carefully, but appeared slightly lost; Lady Imube seemed quite interested. Dyatlov felt encouraged to continue.

"An attacking force, waiting in subspace, can just open a portal and scan the surroundning realspace for threats. If they acquire any targets, they can fire ordnance through the portal; the defenders need to fire back through the portal. This results in what we call the 'Arrowslit Effect': the attackers can get a good read on the defending ships and need to fire through a portal located at a known position relative to their ships; the defenders, on the other hand, need to fire at ships masked against Subspace radiation, through a portal that they have no control over."

"Oh, I think I see," the Governor interjected, with a self-satisfied smile. "It's like shooting with the light in one's eyes, yes? This is fascinating!"

"Indeed, Your Excellency," Dyatlov said, somewhat relieved. "It is like shooting against the sun, at a small target that may or may not be there when your shot reaches them, through a hoop. While they get to shoot back at you with no such problems. You see, Your Excellency, what we do with Starlances, is mine them, not defend them. Now, the enemy knows the Starlance will be mined and they are unlikely to just translate into the minefield; but it delays them, quite a lot. You see, if there wasn't a minefield, the enemies could translate through the Starlance as a fleet, recharge their drives, and be in the Hōseki orbitals in, say, twenty minutes after their arrival in the system. And we would have, essentially, no warning."

The Governor's grimace at that idea was all the encouragement Dyatlov needed to drive the point home.

"It takes time for the enemy to clear a minefield and they cannot translate their entire fleet as a unit until the minefield is cleared," he said. "And it usually takes more than one missile to proximity kill a mine; and missiles are more expensive than mines. It's a delaying tactic, Your Excellency, something to stop the enemy at the Starlance while we bring our fleet to readiness."

"And I assume you have mined the Starlance, Praetor?" Lady Imube asked, leaning back.

"Yes, My Lady," Dyatlov replied. "With several overlapping minefields; stealth mines, homing mines, torpedo buoys. Everything we had, really. And I have the Orakul standing by to let us know when the enemy translates. My most sincere thanks to the honoured Imube Branch for their kind contribution to the fleet - Orakul is central to my plan."

"Well then!" Bao Zhai leaned back in his chair, considerably more relaxed. "Well then. That sounds quite reasonable, I must say. Quite reasonable. I don't see how we can accuse the Praetor of any sort of negligence in his duties. He seems to be on top of things, don't you think so, My Lady? Master Nakayama?"

Dyatlov's relief at Lady Imube's smile was short lived, as Nakayama cleared his throat with a sound like dust and cracking wood. "Yes, well," the young man said. "Putting aside the Starlance defence, for now. What I am hearing is that the Praetor's plan involves granting the enemy a foothold in Terconia unopposed."

"Hardly unopposed, Sir," Dyatlov protested. "The enemy cannot engage our planetary defenses or comparable installations without suffering considerable losses. I have deployed my forces in such a way that they will be able to delay any concentrated assault long enough for our entire fleet to translate to the battlefield. And, from that point on, the enemy will need to either retreat, or bounce between targets, with our fleet in hot pursuit. French's fleet simply does not have the capability for a concentrated attack on our forces. He'll need to start creeping forward, perhaps taking over our more remote outposts and facilities but, frankly, we can afford to lose them, while bleeding him along the way. We have reinforcements coming up; and, once the two Starbases in our orbitals are complete, it should be possible to take the fight back to them."

Dyatlov hoped that he sounded considerably more confident than he felt. His plan was by no means perfect; and it involved giving ground in as controlled a fashion as possible, taking opportunistic fights and waiting for reinforcements. However, this granted all initiative to French; and playing rope-a-dope on a strategic level would surely be a nightmare with his less-than-cohesive forces.

"I'm sorry, Praetor," Nakayama said, his voice like sharp glass and ice. "I must have heard you wrong. Did you say you have deployed forces to all critical facilities?"

"Yes, Sir," Dyatlov responded. "I have capital ships from my main Battle-line and my Support forces in orbit over Hōseki and the two moons; two heavy cruiser squadrons with escorts are defending the shipyards. I also have two Volyas with Destroyer and Frigate escorts deployed at the solar energy stations in-system."

"Praetor," Nakayama said, his voice taking up slight tones of exasperation, not unlike that of a parent explaining something fundamental to a stupid child, "I have fifteen megatons of Nakayama Inc. facilities in more than thirty asteroid mines and refineries spread throughout the system. A conservative estimate places the total value of Nakayama infrastructure in this system at around three billion Hez. More than a tenth of the Nakayama Inc. metallurgy output comes from our facilities in Terconia. And, after consulting with my overseers, it appears that the most they have seen of your fleet in the last two weeks is two Frigates passing by...let me see...ah yes, Refinery R08, in a survey of the asteroid cluster. Now, my question is this:"

Nakayama leaned back in his chair, his eyes shifting from Dyatlov to the Governor, who flinched slightly under the cold glare.

"Why have no measures been taken to defend these critical facilities? And why should Nakayama Inc. continue to invest in this system when the local administration and our military show no concern for us?"

"Sir, it would be impossible to defend every asteroid facility and outpost in Terconia," Dyatlov protested, "My forces would have to be spread too thin. I am truly sorry, but the defense of the system is my priority, not individual stations. In that context, it is simply not viable to..."

"But you have already split your forces, Praetor, have you not?" Nakayama asked, his eyes fixed on the fidgeting Governor and not Dyatlov. "To cover other facilities? And it would be possible for forces from all over the system to converge at a single point if the enemy were to attack, would it not? Is this not your plan, anyway?"

"Sir, I have split my fleet into task forces" Dyatlov replied, heatedly. "Squadrons with command ships that can be managed at a strategic level and can operate as units. You are proposing that I split my fleets to an unmanageable degree. And for what? Sir, a task force is barely sufficient to defend a facility from a concentrated attack for the time it would take for the rest of the fleet to converge at the site. A smaller force would simply be annihilated before we could come to their aid. Or even before they could get out a distress signal, for that matter."

"Your failings as a strategic commander do not concern me, Praetor," Nakayama said, coldly. "Nor does your ships' apparent suboptimal performance. What does concern me, is the preservation of the Nakayama Inc. investments on this system. And if nothing is done to preserve them, I have no choice but to inform you, Your Excellency, that we will be discontinuing all further investments in this system. And, while I cannot directly speak for them, I do not imagine that our patrons in the Hokke and Dragunov Branches will be...happy to know of this clear failing in our civilian and military administration."

A few moment passed in heavy silence, as Dyatlov considered the imminent end of his career; and then the Governor turned to him, a drop of sweat making its way down his forehead.

"Praetor," Bao Zhai said, his voice only slightly shaking. "Please see what you can do about Mr. Nakayama's request. Surely you can spare a few ships to guard...? A couple of capital ships, maybe?"

"Your Excellency, my capital ships are barely sufficient to cover the facilities I am currently defending," Dyatlov replied, his voice tired and his lack of sleep suddenly looming in the back of his mind like a dark wave. "Which of them would you like me to stop defending? Perhaps the solar stations? Or maybe the Starbases under construction - I'm sure that French will not test their defenses before they're complete? Or perhaps this very station?"

"N-Nothing so drastic, Praetor," Bao Zhai said. "But we cannot simply..."

"May I propose something?" Lady Imube interjected, with a kind smile towards Dyatlov. "Praetor, perhaps you could spare some smaller ships? Set up a...a patrol, of sorts? A few Frigates, maybe a Destroyer or two?"

"My Lady, my escort ships are an incohesive mess," Dyatlov answered, and damn with pretenses. "The crews of half of them think they're flying Volyas and will engage any enemy they see on sight, even if it gets them killed five seconds into the fight. The other half last received training five years ago, or are composed of the most stereotypical, low-responsibility dullards you will ever see. Which ones would you rather I deploy to defend Mr. Nakayama's facilities?"

Lady Imube raised her hand demurely to cover her smile; Nakayama bristled; and Bao Zhai coughed discreetly.

"Yes, well," he said. "Ahem. That's all well and good. But Mr. Nakayama has a point and I think that Lady Imube's proposition has merit. Proceed, then, Praetor, if you please. I propose a small...'task force', was it? Yes, maybe twenty ships or so, all Frigates or Destroyers. Have them patrol the Nakayama facilities - and they can call in the fleet if they are attacked."

Dyatlov felt faint. "Sir, twenty ships? In independent patrols? It would be impossible to re-attach them in any fleet formation in case of a large engagement. That would, essentially, take out half of my escort screen."

"Nevertheless, Praetor," Bao Zhai said sternly, encouraged by Nakayama's smirk, "it needs to be done. We cannot allow it to be said that we have left the Emperor's subject's undefended. Mr. Nakayama, I assume you would be satisfied...?"

"Oh yes," Nakayama replied with a barely noticeable shrug, "quite. I must say, I have no particular confidence in the Praetor's skills, but I cannot fault the Terconia civilian authorities for what is clearly a failing on behalf of our military. I will inform my patrons and superiors of your kind assistance here, Your Excellency. Now, if you'll excuse me..."

He got off his chair, with a jerky movement; picked up his small compact briefcase; bowed elegantly to the Governor and Lady Imube; and made his way, with a slightly spastic, clockwork-figure-like walk to the exit. While passing next to Dyatlov, he gave the Praetor a small nod and moved on with no further acknowledgement, almost shoulder-checking Dyatlov who was standing there in dismal despair. Before he reached the door, however, it opened on its own; and a sharply-dressed valet walked in, almost immediately standing aside respectuously, to allow Nakayama to pass. After the door had closed, the valet coughed delicately and turned to Bao Zhai.

"My apologies, Your Excellency," he said, "But I have an urgent message for Praetor Dyatlov."

Dyatlov accepted the proffered holocrystal and slotted it into his dataslate as if in a dream; and he had to read the message three times before he could register its contents, his thoughts still fixed on how completely and utterly ruined his career was. Once the urgency of the message made its way through the haze, however, he staggered backwards.

"Your Excellency," he croaked, "My Lady, I...I will need to take my leave."

"Praetor...?" Lady Imube asked, her voice filled with concern. "Are you feeling...?"

"They're here," Dyatlov mumbled, his mind already on Michiko's bridge. "Orakul has engaged the enemy. I must go."


« Last Edit: April 25, 2017, 11:08:59 am by Enioch »
'Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent'  -Salvor Hardin, "Foundation"

So don't take a hammer to your computer. ;-)

 

Offline Lorric

  • 211
I like this idea that what you'd expect gets flipped on its head and an engagement at a starlance favours the attacker, not the defender. And yet it is an advantage to the defender if they don't engage and put mines everywhere, costing the attacker time and resources.

I also don't think I've seen a tale before where both sides are hamstrung by politics. So that will be interesting too. Usually the leaders are limited only by their imaginations and resources, or only one side is hamstrung.

 

Offline Torchwood

  • 27
  • It's a Long Way to Tipperary
Nice! This is some good inspiring work. Had just as much fun reading through as with Paul Wang's military fiction.

I like the part about Starlance tactics, it's definitely something to keep in mind for the purpose of mission design.