The fleet doesn't get together very often. The Initial Response Force battlegroups are semi autonomous, fully integrated commands with both Terran and Vasudan fleet elements. We don't operate in traditional battle groups in the way the mainstream fleets do. We also aren't delineated as the mainstream fleets are. We operate with minimal logistical support far beyond the Red Line, as the parlance goes. It's a demanding job and it requires a certain perspective. You can't just go charging into a Red Zone waving the Silver Zeta and expect the locals to instantly co-operate. We don't have the supply lines to operate full fleet actions out there and it only takes one nut with a freighter full of anti-matter to do a billion credits worth of damage to a corvette.
With that said, you can't be delicate. There are rough types out there, nasty people whose M.O. is to just be as sociopathic as they can be. They aren't the worst, though. You've got the Red Dippers, the types who treat the Redzoners like disposable property. That's what we spend most of our time doing. Putting out plasma fires burning in the Red Zone colonies. Make no mistake, though. Space is a big place. There are a million holes for rats and there aren't a million frigates and ten million fighters to plug them.
I think that's why they gave the Admiral the Impervious. It's a never ending task and it takes a philosophical type to survive such a job. A lot of the mainstream COs are all about The War. When they aren't fighting the Good Fight, they're off training or drilling or all manner of different military style approaches. That works, for them. They get called on every once in a while to deal with pirate uprisings and everyone has a lot of fun shooting down the enemy.
Out in the Red, that doesn't work. These people aren't GTVA citizens. We let them live out there, but we don't help them. They don't have rights - if they did, we'd have to colonise and that isn't in The Plan. Our whole existence is dominated by one thing.
What if the Shivans return?
So we let the Red Zoners beyond the fortified Petrarch nodes be, for the most part. They colonise and quarrel and fight amongst themselves and we step in when we hear something brewing that could threaten large scale efforts or we get reports of something that might be Shivan out there. That's the horrifying truth that we never tell anyone. We aren't rat catchers. We're Shivan hunters. It only takes a supposed sighting of a Shivan fighter to get a frigate or a small IRF task force sent into the Red Zone. We've never found one, thank fortune, but we investigate everything. Just in case we need to bomb another jump node. I hope that never happens.
I'm rambling again, I know. Sorry. I wanted to get this out of my head and written down somewhere so I could explain all of this to someone. Even just a computer.
I guess the thing I find most amazing is how is remarkable how words retain such power, even so long after they have been spoken. They stick in your mind, revolving like gathering stellar dust, picking up anything that passes into their view. They shape how you think and what you feel and in doing so, maybe they shape all of reality.
Isn't that what the old philosophers used to say before we discovered subspace? That reality was contingent on some abstract layer of consciousness? I wonder what madness birthed the Shivans.
Maybe the Vasudans will admit to it one day. They'll reveal some wheelchair bound corpse and admit that yes, it was he that brought them into being. Khalresh, my XO, likes that one. She is such a stickler for protocol but that vocoder hides a dark and disgusting sense of humour. It makes the NTF I faced in my youth seem very much an anachronism, that both my worst enemy and closest friend is of another species.
I was sat with the Admiral, talking about this very thing. He always has me over for a drink when the Roma returns for her sixth month ReInt. He sits there in that preposterous leather chair of his, reclining back and fingering whatever god awful Vasudan drink he has a taste for this week.
This time, however, just as I'm leaving, he stares into his glass. I don't know what he could see in those murky brown depths, but cogs are turning.
"It's been twenty years since Capella," he said. "Capella has shaped everything. It's changed the way we live, changed how we think and changed what we are."
Then he looks up.
"In Sol, they won't even know Capella is gone. They won't see it for nearly twenty five more years. We'd better get home before they do."
* * *
"You aren't being serious."
"Forty seven. I seek not to spread fallacy."
"I never knew."
"I chose to prevent your information."
Sip. It goes straight to the head.
"That's not how you use that word, Khalresh."
"I was unaware I committed a transgression."
"...is that a smile?"
"I am incapable of such."
"I know that expression."
"It remains a deceit on behalf of your conscious mind. You seek, yet again, to humanise me, Lilian Shawcross."
"And you are being obtuse. Again"
"I share nothing in common with such an angle."
"That's not what I meant."
"My joints are acute at this moment in time."
A moment passes.
"How many years has it been now?"
"Which moment do you choose as reference?"
"I thought you believed in time as a..."
There is a wave of a hand.
"Even a fluid may be marshalled."
"You're being difficult. I am trying to be nostalgic."
"I do not believe in this Terran quality of nostalgia."
"I thought that was more of a Vasudan quality."
"Ours is not nostalgia. It is obsession. Twelve years."
Another pause, longer this time.
"I've read your file. I don't regret anything, but why? Why spend your life here? There are commands you could have in the core fleets. Why here?"
"I prefer the company of Terrans."
"Bull****. Even I don't prefer the company of Terrans. Case in point."
"A poor preference."
"You still haven't given me a real answer."
An adjustment of seating, of uniform, of robing.
"Terrans have a saying - those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. As do we. Better to be the parents of tomorrow than the children of yesterday."
"...oh come on, everyone has quotes like that."
"I have never been a child of yesterday, Lilian. In this wilderness of vacuum, we give birth to the future. Were I simply waiting for the destroyers, I would surrender to fear of the past."
"We still hunt them out here, you know. That IS why we are out here."
"Yes, but we hunt them. Out here, they are the prey. Never again shall we be theirs."
* * *
Thought you might like this. Old lecture I got when I was in OCS STac. Found it when I was looking through my stuff on the clus. Thats your lady, isn't it?
Old memories die hard, mm?
A Short Primer to Subspace Warfare: Strategy and Tactics
Delivered to OCS tranche 4-b, 2381 as part of OCS Strategic Talent Terran Fast Track Initiative
Lt. Cmdr. L. Shawcross
Chief Strategy Officer, GTCv Archon
IRF Second Strand
Thanks for coming.
There are two things a good commander should know about subspace. The first is that subspace is fickle. The second is that it exists at all. The second is the harder of the two to appreciate. I will try and elaborate to the best of my talent, but I'm going to offer an apology first.
GTVA Sci Ops sends a number of candidates to OCS every year. I know a number of you are in this room. To you poor sods, I send my apologies because this is going to seem outrageously basic if you have any understanding of spatial compression theory. You know as well as I do that there are reasons why subspace geometries grow languid away from gravitional fields and why nodes form and collapse, but they aren't important to this lecture.
Simply put, subspace makes interplanetary travel possible. It also makes interstellar travel possible, but the mechanics of interstellar travel are ironically far easier than interplanetery travel. It also places substantial technical and energetic constraints on interplanetary travel which must be considered by any strategist worth their salt. To be an effective strategist in an era of subspace combat, there are three important concepts which you must understand.
The first: subspace travel is energetically expensive with drive size determining drive effectiveness. To expand upon this; the size of the drive determines how far you are able to tunnel and how difficult it is to open a valid geometry. This has an obvious and immediate consequence - ships with a lot of drive power and space dedicated to drive power move a lot faster than ships which don't. To counter act this - they also take much longer to move. A block 3 Orion refit charges its drive assembly in Code Blue e-jump conditions in eight minutes. A Hecate clocks in around six point five. That's an eternity in a heated battle. You can imagine how long it takes under normal operating conditions without burning clean through your heat sinks and any em-ractor modules you have installed.
The result is that most of your subspace mobility varies from platform to platform. A number of IRF outfits use sub-skimmers, which are literally light freighter platforms with c-moly plating designed solely to get in and out of deep interplanetary space in extremely short time spans. We use them as SAR platforms but also as strike platforms as well. They jump in, disperse a cargo of two or three wings of fighters and jump out within fourty seconds to a safe distance, awaiting a response. Those of you who did your reading for Advanced Subsystems Maintainence will be aware that the design specifications for the old Argo military transport included a corvette class drive motivator. Guess why that was there. The Deimos in all its guises and the venerable Fenris had a staggering amount of subspace mobility for their size.
Vasudan engineering tends to favour a more progressive and measured approach. Those of you fortunate enough to serve under Vasudan engineering staff will realize that they consistently get a good twenty percent faster recharge ton for ton out of their engine systems. This comes at a consistent range cost. Keep this in mind when planning for cross fleet deployments. As always, Vasudan ships show an individuality we don't really appreciate in Terran deployments, but it is rare to find a Vasudan engineering crew chief who doesn't have a full up to date spec of his ship ready to hand. They usually take pride in it. Do not be afraid to ask.
All but the most advanced prototype fighters are utterly immobile as far as subspace travel goes. Sure, SoC and other spook outfits have advanced drive motivators which allow for deep insertion tactics, but as far as I know, those motivators involve rather expensive materials and precision engineering and maintainence. They simply aren't cost effective for most materiel. Most fighter engagements will happen within a tenth of a light minute of their source and only if they have direct line of sight. Orbital battles should be planned with this in mind.
Secondly: subspace travel is unpredictable and is stabilised by the presence of strong gravity wells at coupling ends. The calculations involved in a subspace jump are handled almost entirely in fifth and sixth order differential calculus using five coupled tensor equations and involve subspace probing methods which have never been perfected. nyone who has read the reports of the tactical nightmare the Shivans presented to the GTA and the PVN will be well aware of just how devastating an advantage the ability to send entire swarms of fighters halfway across a system at whim can be.
However, we are not Shivans, so we must accept that the coupled equations we have at best are just good guesswork and our field theory and implementation involves a stabilising constant which accounts for gravitational effects. When spatial curvature is present and thus gravitons curtail the nascent tendency of subspace to flip a weakly applied subspace field gradient, subspace fields behave predictably and a direct A to B path is easy to apply. These calculations take time even for modern computers, which must simulate and account for graviton probing in higher order dimensions. To simplify further, the actual co-ordinates entered into a computer are merely a reference point. The computer then has to calculate the actual path of the field between those two points, find a stable, none collapsing solution and then finally generate the field geometry required.
That we can do this at all is a miracle of modern engineering! With that said, it still takes time. Ships can jump without pre-calculated field geometries using a best guess approach but the results are often catastrophic. The PVD Damascus incident from the Great War indicates the risk of crash jumping when they jumped twenty kilometers over a Vasudan desert trying to escape from the SD Lucifer. The automatically ejected black box indicates they dumped a full drive charge into an unstable jump configuration. The jump was less than four hundred thousand kilometers and it dumped the ship out with an opposite orbital velocity to Vasudan Prime itself, meaning it slammed into the desert at nearly 40 million ms. Crash jumps are an emergency measure. The tendency for poorly managed subspace field geometries to invert and slam you into a sun or a planet is not one to be trifled with.
Further, subspace travel is safer and faster if you are able to compute those geometries and do so in the presence of a gravitational field. There is no actual difference between the distance travelled, but if you care enough to look the coupled equations themselves up, it becomes obvious that the fields grow more unstable the deeper into subspace they propagate. Larger ships can counteract this with sheer drive power and improved computation, but there are limits even to this. A local gravity well - even a large asteroid or a small moon - can mean a great deal of time and energy can be saved on relatively short jumps. Use this to your advantage in the module war games. Controlling the gravity well around any population centre can mean you have a tremendous amount of mobility the enemy cannot match - unless they are Shivans in which case, I wish you the best of luck.
As a rule of thumb. Your fighters will be limited to short jumps. Your destroyers, a military risk worth taking, move slowly but purposefully over large distances. Use your cruisers and corvettes to hem in opposition and make deep strikes with the support of your fighters. Subspace windows remain open for several moments and synced drive configurations can open the same window multiple times. Use this to move fleets as units or sentry or strike fighters with a larger unit. Keep to that and remember that Shivans don't follow those rules and you should have enough to pass this module.
Thirdly and finally: subspace control is everything. We have always had an understanding of subspace tracking built into our drive technologies, but subspace drive technology towards the end of the Great War was beginning to surpass the ability of all but the most dedicated arrays to track superluminal movement in a solar system. Drives got bigger and more powerful with each passing year and we simply did not have the condensed space research on either side to advance it. The discovery of the Precursor tracking artifacts changed all of this. Now, a properly equipped fleet dispersed effectively can institute at least a two jump net around their forces and prevent all but the most dedicated of surprise attacks. As a result, attacks on sensor facilities, comms buoys and even the modern AWACs are the key to allowing an entirely new dimension of warfare. Protect your eyes, ladies and gentlemen. They are your best weapon in modern war.
That concludes my primer. I hand you back to the Captain, who will take you through the capabilities of the Chary-"