Author Topic: Wings of Dawn Lore  (Read 56422 times)

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Offline Destiny

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Kinda a shame that you can't use a single missile/projectile that makes a huge Dragonslave explosion to intercept a cluster of torpedoes. PD would probably look less messy :P


Offline Enioch

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

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


Offline Commander Zane

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Kinda a shame that you can't use a single missile/projectile that makes a huge Dragonslave explosion to intercept a cluster of torpedoes. PD would probably look less messy :P
Isn't it possible if the bombs are flagged to take splash or shockwave damage?


Offline AdmiralRalwood

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Kinda a shame that you can't use a single missile/projectile that makes a huge Dragonslave explosion to intercept a cluster of torpedoes. PD would probably look less messy :P
Isn't it possible if the bombs are flagged to take splash or shockwave damage?
Either that, or the weapon is flagged as a CIWS.
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Codethulhu GitHub wgah'nagl fhtagn.

schrödinbug (noun) - a bug that manifests itself in running software after a programmer notices that the code should never have worked in the first place.

When you gaze long into BMPMAN, BMPMAN also gazes into you.

"I am one of the best FREDders on Earth" -General Battuta

<Aesaar> literary criticism is vladimir putin

<MageKing17> "There's probably a reason the code is the way it is" is a very dangerous line of thought. :P
<MageKing17> Because the "reason" often turns out to be "nobody noticed it was wrong".
(the very next day)
<MageKing17> this ****ing code did it to me again
<MageKing17> "That doesn't really make sense to me, but I'll assume it was being done for a reason."
<MageKing17> **** ME

<MageKing17> God damn, I do not understand how this is breaking.
<MageKing17> Everything points to "this should work fine", and yet it's clearly not working.
<MjnMixael> 2 hours later... "God damn, how did this ever work at all?!"
<MageKing17> so
<MageKing17> more than two hours
<MageKing17> but once again we have reached the inevitable conclusion
<MageKing17> How did this code ever work in the first place!?

<@The_E> Welcome to OpenGL, where standards compliance is optional, and error reporting inconsistent

<MageKing17> It was all working perfectly until I actually tried it on an actual mission.

<IronWorks> I am useful for FSO stuff again. This is a red-letter day!
* z64555 erases "Thursday" and rewrites it in red ink

<MageKing17> TIL the entire homing code is held up by shoestrings and duct tape, basically.


Offline Enioch

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Chapter 4, Part 1: Yonsakuren

"Ladies and Gentlemen," Arc Champion Julius French said, his voice sharp, "My congratulations to all commanding officers and crews. We have secured a foothold in Terconia with no casualties or ship losses; we may now proceed to the second stage of the plan. Which is what I wish to discuss with you in detail before we commit."

The Champion was alone in Nelson's briefing room, but a curved holoscreen projected the faces of his capital ship commanders in a massive conference call. There were some murmured 'hear hears' but enthusiasm was muted. Despite the undeniable success of the CRF fleets in completing the Andor - Terconia translation, the small Delest picket force had managed to escape with no apparent casualties and the Delest fleet itself had refrained from making an appearance. Long-range sensors had located several capital ships in-system, but the exact disposition of the enemy remained unclear.

"Messrs. Hogue and Longstall of the engineering corps have notified me that assembly of the mobile starbases has commenced and that the subspace tugs are bringing the modular compartments over from Andor in good time and order. In a couple of weeks, the Starlance will be relatively secure as a centre of operations, in case none of the captured Delest installations strike our fancy. And on that topic..."

A slight press of a holographic button; a map of the system blinked into existence in the centre of the screen, shouldering the video feeds of the CRF officers aside. The map was highly detailed for several Astronomical Units surrounding the Starlance; its resolution fell considerably further away, however.

"This is a map of the system as it has been pieced together by our fighter patrols so far," French said. "Please note the asteroid belts past the outermost planet."

A second button press; several red dots appeared throughout the asteroid belt in question.

"Our fighters have probed the belt. These are all Delest installations, identified thanks to their power signatures and output. Obviously, we have not explored the entirety of the belt so far - you can see that the region across the system is pretty much a blank - but we can, in all likelihood, assume that the Delest have established a comparable number of bases there as well."

"Military outposts, Sir?" Paladin Iphigenia Thursdale of the Revenge asked.

"Unlikely, but not impossible," French conceded. "Mining stations, more likely, given their power signatures and complete lack of shielding. Remember, Madam, that this was one of their Core Worlds until recently, with little use for in-depth defense. Now, I cannot confidently state that there aren't any military platforms seeded among these asteroid mines. Unfortunately, our fighter patrols were driven off by their own pickets; I have here reports of...let me see...ah yes, at least eight Frigate or Destroyer-class vessels and an indeterminate number of strikecraft in semi-regular patrols throughout the asteroid belts."

"Capital ships, Sir?" Knight Featherstonehaugh asked.

"None," French stated. "At least none that are powered up to any noticeable degree. We are getting at least fifteen different capital-grade drive emissions from in-system, however - all of them near what we presume our core installations."

"So, he's defending strategic locations, then?" Thursdale interjected once again. "He's abandoning the outer planets and installations to us, while concentrating his forces for the defense of the inner worlds and vital installations?"

"Probably," French conceded. "I must admit that I am not sure about the ships that he has left in the asteroid belt, however. They fulfill no obvious function. If his purpose were to delay our advance or counter our boarding operations, he has vastly undercommited. If we were to engage these ships in any concentrated push, we could wipe them out before Dyatlov brought his capitals on-scene."

"And if they're just scouts, then he's overcommited," Paladin Attwood mused.

"Mmmmh," French assented. "I'd like your input on this, Ladies and Gentlemen."

There were a few moments of silence, as the Knights and Paladins of Arc Victoria gathered their thoughts. Then, Knight Laura Rosslyn of the Thunder tentatively raised her hand.

"Well, Sir," she said, every part the hesitant, recently-Knighted youth that she was, "I don't think Dyatlov is a bad commander. I mean, we were considering the possibility, but after the minefield, I don't think that that's the case. It was...too well orchestrated."

There were murmurs of assent among the others; Featherstonehaugh, notably, seemed particularly pleased that her protegée (and, if French was not mistaken, ex-squire) was stepping into the spotlight.

"Yes," Attwood agreed. "That was no maverick commander biting their thumb at us. This was directed from the highest level. So, from a tactical standpoint at least, this Dyatlov fellow seems to know what he's doing. Good point, my Lady."

"Which makes this asteroid patrol business...jarring," Featherstonehaugh snapped. "If Dyatlov organised the Starlance defense - and I grant you that this is the most likely scenario - then this asteroid garrison mess is quite unlike what he's shown us."

"A trap perhaps?" Thursdale suggested. "A rather poor one, I admit. Or, maybe there's an independent commander here, operating beyond Dyatlov's authority? Not unlike our own...well, allies?"

There were some chuckles and some polite coughs at this. Neither CRF fleet had suffered particularly in the Starlance torpedo strike, but the Arc Victoria force had certainly fared better than their Pegasus allies and there was a certain degree of schadenfreude and self-satisfaction to be had.

"An independent commander?" French asked, before the conversation could devolve. "With only a Destroyer and Frigate force? Doubtful."

"Well, Sir, there may be some merit there," Featherstonehaugh remarked, thoughtfully. "Dyatlov is just a Praetor, is that right?"

"According to BuInt, certainly," French confirmed.

"Well, Sir, a Praetor isn't that big a fish, politically speaking," Featherstonehaugh said. "If he'd been promoted to High Executor, then he would have been near-untouchable from a political standpoint. That would have been almost as drastic as giving him one of those Delest Mandates and turning him loose. But Old Vlad didn't promote him to High Executor. And a Praetor...well, a Praetor can still be tossed to the wolves if they fail, unless they really watch their step."

"So, it's political," Attwood said, ruefully, with a crooked smile. There were laughs.

"What I mean to say," Featherstonehaugh said, with a roll of her eyes and a thin smile, "is that he must be under a lot of political pressure. My bet is that there's a lot of valuable property in mining rights there that he can't afford to be seen not defending. That's not Dyatlov we're seeing pissing away his forces. That's the moneybag bumblers holding his strings."

"Well," French mused, with a half-smile. "Then perhaps we should proceed with tangling these strings? These mining stations are valuable targets and the original plan calls for a slow push forward anyway. The asteroid fields present us with excellent staging points for a future system offensive and they will be magnificent prizes in themselves. I'd rather capture them first and make sure the Delest don't blow them out of the sky behind them. Not to mention that the political pressure this will put Dyatlov under might force him into...less then optimal decisions."

Again, a few moments of silence; nods and solemnity as the Knights of Arc Victoria indicated their assent.

"Alright then," French said, and any indecision had been cast out of his voice and features. "We will adopt a slight variation of Plan Charlie. Triumph and Thunder will lead the left flank..."

"I am putting forward Ter-Iio Akiyama for a Silver Lion for this piece of work," Dyatlov stated grimly, hunched over the holographic table, "whatever my recommendation ends up being worth, in the end. How certain are we?"

"As certain as we can hope to be, Sir," Arurior Maria Sebrenova, Michiko's commanding officer stated confidently, raising her head with a wide smile. "Look at how they're moving. Never mind the ship identifications - look at how they're dealing with the incoming fire."

Her hand moved over the holographic controls and the ghostly formations of the Arc Victoria and Pegasus fleets scrubbed forwards and backwards in time.

"See how this formation flows to rotate new ships into the incoming fire? Classic, textbook French. He did the same in St. Helen, eight years ago. Look at the bastard juggle them. Oh, uh...begging your pardon, Sir."

"Never mind, Seb," Dyatlov said, with feeling. "I'm thinking the same."

"And then, look at this fellow here, whoever they are," Sebrenova continued with a half-smile, indicating the second ship cluster. "Well, they're Pegasus, if their ships are anything we can go by; and would you just look at their discipline. Stationery, under heavy missile fire, their sensors blown to all hell by the Orakul's jamming and they don't flinch, do they?"

"Unfortunately not," Dyatlov mused. "Definitely two commanders, then?"

"I'd stake my life on it, Sir" Sebrenova said, seriously, "and so would my team. Two very good commanders. And, if we're not mistaken, they don't particularly like each other. Well - they might, but they don't plan to work with each other, at all. There's simply no coordination between the fleets that we can see. None. They've got their own separate point-defense nets; their own logistics vessels; and even their force makeup is different. Look at this, Sir."

Fingers danced in empty air; the fleet of Arc Victoria now filled the entirety of the holographic display. The CRF Dreadnoughts loomed over the figures of the Delest officers, bathing them in red light.

"Fifteen Dreadnoughts, all of them Earl or Lord-class: the latest Arc Victoria has to offer. More than two dozen Cruisers for strikecraft coverage and tactical flexibility. Eight Destroyer squadrons. Four flotillas of supply vessels with their escorts, including the modular dockyards the Limeys like to use for field repairs. This is a force set for a slow, methodical campaign - the sort of careful, glacier push that makes French...well, French. Frankly, Sir, you could have just shown me this fleet composition and told me nothing else, and I could have told you who's in command. This guy, on the other hand..."

A flick of Sebrenova's fingers; a flicker of light; and now the Pegasus ships occupied centre stage.

"This guy, I'm not so sure about," Sebrenova mused. "Nine Dreadnoughts - all Lords, but slightly modified in what we think is a faster, more lightly armored variant, built in Pegasus. Fourteen Cruisers, with a distinct focus towards carriers. Only four Destroyer squadrons that we know of. Sir, if I had to guess, I'd say either Simmons or Spalding, based on the focus on carrier Cruisers; but the battle-line is considerably more heavy than what they've deployed in past skirmishes. Maybe it's a new commander, a student of theirs, perhaps; or maybe something else is going on that I'm missing."

She met Dyatlov's eyes with an apologetic shrug. "I just don't know, Sir, I'm sorry. What I can tell you, is that this screams 'heavy assault' to me. If French is the glacier, this fellow has come to smash our face in. He's got the strikecraft to run extensive patrols and raids; he's got the battle-line to hurt us, or at least keep us occupied until French jumps in to help him; and he's got the speed to be where he needs to be when he needs to be."

"And his force is highly disciplined," a smooth, silky voice interjected from across the table. "Do not forget this, Arurior. Praetor."

Arurior Ermolai Yonsakuren was leaning forward, palms on the table and hunched over. His eyes were reflecting the ruby glow of the holograms and Dyatlov was taken aback at the sheer intensity of the Yonsakuren's stare. His jet-black hair, darkish complexion and perfectly-groomed circle beard gave him an almost demon-like appearance that was, In the few weeks he had known the man, Ermolai had been...distant, for lack of a better term, always exuding an aura of subtle and sullen discontent. This change was striking, to say the least. And Dyatlov was not the only one to notice: the rest of Sebrenova's team and those members of Dyatlov's Staff that were present were giving the man a wide berth.

"You have something to contribute, Arurior?" Dyatlov asked and mentally prepared himself for the task ahead. This new attitude of Ermolai's had to be encouraged; but Dyatlov's years of on-and-off interaction with the Clan had taught him that any conversation with a Yonsakuren was a...delicate affair, not unlike taking a stroll in a minefield, and sure to result in headaches.

"Yes," Ermolai answered and slowly and fluidly unfolded himself from his hunched position to his full height. The motion reminded Dyatlov of a big cat; and there was a distinct sort of animalistic swagger in the posture of the Yonsakuren that communicated perfectly how honoured everyone should feel for having been granted his attention. "I have many things to say. Some, I wish to say to specific people here present. Some, I wish to say to all. Some, I wish to say to you only, Praetor. In private."

"That...can be arranged," Dyatlov acquiesced. "We're listening."

And that was the truth. Ermolai commanded attention in a different way than Dyatlov; perhaps it was the raw charisma of the man. Or, perhaps, the fact that everyone in the room knew that, despite his lean build, he was strong enough to casually snap the spine of any person present in two and probably take great pleasure in doing it. And the fact that he had kept to himself during the earlier weeks certainly lent him an air of exoticism that he now consciously wielded with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer.

"Alright," the Yonsakuren replied. "With your permission, then."

He moved; and the infernal swagger was muted, replaced by a prowling gait that brought him before Arurior Sebrenova in a few steps. She retreated a hesitant step before his bulk; and then Ermolai stopped, well within her personal space, leaning forward and looking directly into her eyes.

"Your presentation of your conclusions was concise and insightful, Arurior," he said, in a low, rumbling purr - and oh my God that smile. "It was also fascinating and displayed your professionalism, experience and talent as an analyst and tactician. I find these traits highly desirable."


Dyatlov could see the blood drain from Sebrenova's face and the kaleidoscope of emotions that followed, none of them particularly positive. He could feel his tongue stick to his palate; like everyone else, he had heard the tales. His hand dropped to his sidearm, ready to defend his ship's captain and friend and he noticed several others amongst his officers doing the same. Ermolai, however, was not done.

"It is unfortunate that you are not a Yonsakuren, Arurior," he continued. "Your physical frame is most pleasing to the eye but, ultimately, quite frail. This makes me sad. We would be most unevenly matched if I were to...agressively pursue your affections in a physical manner as is sometimes done in my Clan. That would bring me little pleasure - and considerable dishonour. But this does not diminish your obvious talent or my admiration and desire. I have therefore decided to make my feelings clear here, before witnesses, and inform you that I intend to further explore my attraction to you, in pursuit of your approval. Hopefully I will come to prove my worth to your satisfaction in the upcoming days. If, at any point, you wish to discuss this matter further with me, or desire comfort in these uncertain and glorious times of war, or simply wish to...experiment, please do not hesitate to contact me. I guarantee you will not be disappointed."

The Yonsakuren bowed ever so slightly, his eyes never leaving those of the -now furiously blushing- Sebrenova. The impression was that of a tomcat staring down a terrified smaller furry animal for one, two, three seconds - and then Ermolai turned away on his heel to address the rest of the glaring officers and Sebrenova staggered back into the supporting hands of two of her friends.

"That is what I wanted to say to a specific person," Ermolai said, lightly, and very notably not looking at the hands still grasping sidearms all around Michiko's CIC. "Now I would like to say something for all to hear."

"Proceed, Arurior," Dyatlov said, coldly, "and, for the Emperor's sake, limit yourself to matters that concern the current military situation."

"Understood, Praetor," the Yonsakuren said with a crooked grin. He stepped back to the holotable, shoulder-checking a glaring Commander out of the way and gestured toward the Pegasus fleet.

"This is your opponent," he said. "Not French. French you have a plan for. French you can delay, and stall. And if you stall him long enough, help will come. But this fellow here, whoever he is, this fellow has not come to play chess with you, Praetor. This one has come for the fight alone - to brawl and to destroy us. If given the slightest chance, he will seek you out with all his force and you need to prepare for it. You cannot afford to ignore him."

"I do not intend to," Dyatlov said, stepping forward. "This is why we are here. To figure out how to best deal with our enemies."

"From my perspective?" Ermolai said, with a fluid and surprisingly expressive shrug, "The key is in their discipline. French builds his fleets like wheels within wheels. Everything linking together, everything redundant. You cannot kill French's fleet by killing French himself. His people know how to fight together and alone and they knew how to move to weather your fire. This Pegasus fellow, on the other hand? This fellow does not build his fleet like a machine. He builds it like a family. He has the love of his people. Believe me on this. Nobody sits and takes fire like the Pegasus sailors did without loving their commander more than life itself. Kill him, and his forces will fall apart. That's how you deal with enemies like him. That's what we should be figuring out."

There were a few moments of silence, as the Yonsakuren's words sank in.

"Thank you for your insight, Arurior," Dyatlov finally said, his voice quaking with suppressed anger. "and for your contribution. Anything else you would like to say?"

"Here, to all?" Ermolai asked, smiling wide and displaying two magnificent rows of startlingly white teeth. "No. But I have more things to say to you Praetor. Privately. And as soon as possible. Perhaps even now, if you can spare the time. It will take but a few moments."

Dyatlov considered for a few heartbeats, then gestured with his head toward the small airlock separating the CIC room from the rest of the ship. "In there. Give me a second."

As Ermolai made his way toward the airlock, conspicuously ignoring most of the other officers and with that obnoxious grin still on his face, Dyatlov approached the still-shaken Sebrenova who gave him a wan smile from between her two self-appointed bodyguards. "Hello, Sir," she said, her voice brittle. "You'll never guess what happened today."

"Are you alright, Seb?" Dyatlov asked, considerably worried. All around him, the CIC had erupted in excited murmurs and hushed exclamations, but the officers present were smart enough to give them - and the retreating Ermolai- their space.

"Oh yes, Sir," she replied. "Not any day a Yonsakuren expresses their interest to you. Fancy that."

"Listen to me, Seb," Dyatlov said, his voice low. "You are safe. He has stated before witnesses that he will not hurt you in any way. Making any agressive move on you right now would be the height of dishonor for him. Now, I'm going to go into that airlock and give him a piece of my mind, but I need you to understand that you could be locked in a rating's bunk with him right now and he wouldn't lay a hand on you against your will. I promise you that."

"Yes, Sir," Sebrenova answered, making a valiant effort to appear convinced. "Go, Sir. Get this over with. And then...we can figure out what to do. Go."

« Last Edit: May 08, 2017, 08:19:18 pm by Enioch »
'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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Apologies for the delay. Yesterday was a full day and I went to bed at like 3am. Christ, I'm getting old and decrepit.  :doubt:
'Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent'  -Salvor Hardin, "Foundation"

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


Offline Thisisaverylongusername

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My goodness, Ermolai was so charismatic that I was drawn closer to my screen as I was reading this. Very well done.
If the opposite of pro is con, then is the opposite of progress Congress?


Offline Lorric

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I want to see what he has to say to Dyatlov, I wasn't expecting it to cut off there. Enjoying it though.

If the CRF can work together I'm sure those two fleets could compliment each other. French's strategy makes more sense now that I know you can't rush for the starlance/s and block out the reinforcements. He's going to gradually make the system belong to the CRF piece by piece, fortifying and assimilating as he goes, while rebuffing any DD attempt to stop him, yes? I wonder if it would be better instead to go straight for the vats? They are of immense value to the DD but zero value to the CRF, if they were razed, would that limit the desire of the various DD factions to come in with their investment destroyed? Or would this be seen as an unforgivable atrocity that would have the whole DD screaming for vengeance?

Did she really say "meep"?

Yonsakuren courtship certainly sounds interesting. He made it sound like males and females are an even match physically. Have the Yonsakuren found a way around the male / female strength imbalance somehow? Otherwise I can't see it working, these aren't going to be just any males, but males in excellent physical condition that no female could get anywhere near. She is a military woman, so she's going to be far from frail, so that implies this isn't just rough play, it's something much more physically intense. Maybe something like what Klingons do?
« Last Edit: May 03, 2017, 02:40:31 pm by Lorric »


Offline Spoon

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The average Yonsakuren female has the strength of a well trained 'normal' male. A well trained Yonsakuren female... well, you're starting to get into Dragonball territory  :p
Of course the average Yonsakuren male is going to be comparatively physically stronger and bulkier, but there's a point where just adding more raw strength isn't going to be that big of an advantage anymore, outside of wrestling. I mean, if you get hit by a punch that has a force of 2000 pounds, or one that has 2300 pounds. Either way, you're going to have a bad time. So technique, speed and reflexes become increasingly more important factors when everyone is throwing punches of such power. And in those aspects, Yonsakuren males and females are basically equal.

Going after the vats and destroying them would be a massive escalation of the conflict. If the CRF would do that, it would kick the whole of the DD into a total war mindset.
Compare it to a pre-napoleonic kind of war. Two countries go to war, the armies have a series of battles, until a peace treaty is signed, some territory is exchanged, some war reparation are made. Then there is peace... until the next rematch.
But destroy the vats and the conflict shifts from pre-napoleonic to world war 1, where both nations gear up their entire industry and manpower pool for a long and devastating war. With the goal to completely defeat the enemy. A scenario both sides would very much like to avoid, because the winners from such a conflict would be the SF and UGC.

[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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My goodness, Ermolai was so charismatic that I was drawn closer to my screen as I was reading this. Very well done.

Okay :P Take note, ladies and gentlemen, Yonsakuren can almost seduce people through the fourth wall.

If the CRF can work together I'm sure those two fleets could compliment each other. French's strategy makes more sense now that I know you can't rush for the starlance/s and block out the reinforcements. He's going to gradually make the system belong to the CRF piece by piece, fortifying and assimilating as he goes, while rebuffing any DD attempt to stop him, yes?

That is, indeed, the plan.

I wonder if it would be better instead to go straight for the vats? They are of immense value to the DD but zero value to the CRF, if they were razed, would that limit the desire of the various DD factions to come in with their investment destroyed? Or would this be seen as an unforgivable atrocity that would have the whole DD screaming for vengeance?

Think about it. How would you feel if your enemy specifically targeted a neonatal care unit in a hospital, reaching a six-digit baby kill count?

Yeah. You tell me how the DD would feel and how they'd react.  :shaking:

Did she really say "meep"?

No, you must have misheard.

Yonsakuren courtship certainly sounds interesting. He made it sound like males and females are an even match physically. Have the Yonsakuren found a way around the male / female strength imbalance somehow? Otherwise I can't see it working, these aren't going to be just any males, but males in excellent physical condition that no female could get anywhere near.

The Yonsakuren are not exactly human, remember. They have incorporated alien animal strains into their DNA, and their muscle density is off the charts, for both males and females. When I wrote that Ermolai can casually break a human spine, I was being literal. It would take him seconds. And any Yonsakuren female of his age would have comparable physical strength.

She is a military woman, so she's going to be far from frail, so that implies this isn't just rough play, it's something much more physically intense. Maybe something like what Klingons do?

The Yonsakuren are not exactly human and they don't exactly think like humans either. Remember how a lot of the animal kingdom does the 'courtship' and 'mating' thing?

This is quite acceptable (but not the rule) in Yonsakuren society. With both men and women playing the active 'aggressive' part in a case-by-case basis. Creeped out, yet? :blah:
'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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Thanks for the answers gentlemen.

About the vats, I anticipated the possibility, but I still can't wrap my head around the mentality, how they can care that much and yet take that much from those raised in the vats.

As for how the CRF would deal with the vats if they took them, I guess by allowing all personnel within to reach maturity and turn them over to the DD, then shut the vats down?

I don't find the DD sexual behaviour creepy, perhaps because I've watched a lot of nature programs. It also sounds like you're taking a big risk engaging in such behaviour if your advances are unwelcome. No helpless victims here. Which I guess is kind of what makes the whole thing work in a society that values strength and with no helpless ones (and indeed, if they were, we now know that would be considered dishonourable to go after someone like that in that fashion) I can see how they might find it attractive if someone was willing to take on those risks to have you and were able to subdue you.


Offline Enioch

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Chapter 4, Part 2: Fight-Making

Dyatlov had done many things in his life that, upon recollection, mortified him. Barging into a small, confined space like the wrath of God, and directly challenging a waiting Yonsakuren warrior would stay on his top ten list for the rest of his life.

"What were you thinking, Arurior?" he snarled, as the airlock door closed behind him, cutting them off from the CIC room. "By the Emperor's name, you were out of line."

"You are concerned for your fine lady's safety," the Yonsakuren said calmly, leaning against the opposite door. "And you are offended that I caused her some embarrassment. These are irrational fears and sentiments and do not become you, Praetor."

"You propositioned the Arurior of the Fleet, on the bridge of her ship, in front of fifty onlookers!" Dyatlov said, not mollified in the least.

"It was an excellent opportunity," Ermolai countered, raising his hands, in a placating gesture. "An honest expression of interest, following an exceptional display of skill on her part. No insults whatsoever, neither as you or as the Clan perceive these things. A wealth of witnesses, to preserve both our honours and clarify my position in the matter beyond any doubt. The presence of you, yourself, to act as a representative of sorts on her part, as you are currently doing, I might add. My intentions were and are entirely honourable, Praetor. Or - well. As honourable as fair Arurior Sebrenova would like them to be. Would you have preferred if I approached her in a more private setting?"

"Of..." course, Dyatlov would have said, but then his brain finally caught up with his anger and his mouth snapped closed. He could only imagine Seb's reaction if the Yonsakuren had 'expressed his interest' somewhere without the other officers ready to defend her if it came down to it. "You could have certainly waited for a more opportune time," he finally said.

"Praetor, tomorrow, both she and I literally might be dead," Ermolai said, in a gently admonishing tone. "Now calm your ruffled feathers. You have done what is expected for your friend. There are things we need to address that are equally, if not more important."

"Speak, then," Dyatlov said, his teeth grinding more than he would have liked. "What do you wish to say?"

"I did not like you, Praetor," Ermolai answered immediately, in a matter-of-fact voice and a sly grin. "At all. I resented the fact that I had been assigned to your forces, when I could have gotten a better fight bedding Yonsakuren beauties back in Uuni. You are a compromise solution, Praetor. You have not earned your rank. You were assigned here because no Branch could overrule the others and get their own pet admiral given command. So the Emperor picked you out of the Frontier Fleets, slapped an extra golden lion on your shoulder and threw you out here to shut them up and get himself some peace of mind."

"I do not like you either, Arurior," Dyatlov said, "and I'm liking you even less as time passes."

"Ah," Ermolai countered, "but the situation has changed. I saw how you planned the Starlance battle. I heard the transmissions from the Orakul. It was glorious. Praetor, I believe I was wrong and I owe you an apology."

A moment of silence.

"I beg your pardon?"

"No, actually, I'm begging yours," Ermolai said, grinning that infernal cat-like smile. "Tell me, do you know what Yonsakuren like most in this world?"

"I'm guessing the answer isn't 'a fight'?" Dyatlov asked, his patience wearing thin.

"Close," the Arurior replied, "but not quite. We love a challenge. We love high stakes and we love to dance between victory and defeat. There is no glory, honour or pleasure in a fight against a weaker opponent, where victory is all but assured - because such a fight has nothing to teach us. And there is no glory or pleasure in fighting a vastly superior opponent, because why would we seek out death in combat when there is no hope for victory? But a close fight - a fight where we bring all our resources and skills to bear against our opponent, where we face the challenge with our all - that's a fight worth fighting. An honourable fight. There is great pleasure and exhileration in it. And there is great worth in what one can learn from such a challenge. Even a close defeat would be a thousand times better than taking the coward's path of certain victory."

"Come to the point, Arurior," Dyatlov snapped.

"Do you not understand, Praetor? First I thought that my ships and Clanmates were assigned to you as a token force. Here to die, against a vastly superior enemy, so that the godforsaken Delest Branch in whose fleet we were serving could say 'Look! We sent Yonsakuren to fight!' We were resentful. Sullen. Thought to have been discarded, placed as worthless pawns in the hand of some bumbler. But then we heard of Orakul. Three ships you sent. Against two fleets. And, by the Emperor, they kicked the CRF in the teeth and got out by the skin of theirs. We heard the transmissions. It was glorious. We no longer think you are a bumbler, Praetor."

Ermolai pushed himself off the airlock door and stood to his full height, his eyes burning. Dyatlov could feel the tension in the Yonsakuren's frame, like a massive coiled spring.

"We have a coveted skill, in Uuni, a skill that takes years to hone. 'Fight-making', we call it. It lets people take a bad fight, a fight that is worth nothing and twist and hammer things and people around until they make it a good fight. I have some of that skill. My superiors in Uuni have more. You proved that you have quite a lot of it. I deeply respect that and so do my crews. It makes you...very desirable, Praetor."

The Yonsakuren grinned from ear to ear. "You should watch yourself near Clan women. And some Clan men. I hear Yonsakuren can be quite aggressive in such matters. Heh."

"But nevermind that. Here's what I wanted to say. Whatever happens, my crews and I will do our duty here. We are servants of the Emperor, and we will serve where and how you see fit. But if you put us where the fighting is thickest - if you give us the glorious fight we want, like the one you gave the Orakul, I promise you, we will fight for you like nothing you have seen before. More importantly, no matter whether we live or die, if we are granted a fight worthy of us, I guarantee that word will reach Uuni. And the Clan pays its debts, Praetor. Always."

"We will pay them back a hundredfold," Aretha Pegasus growled; and the grim looks on her Champion's and officers' faces only served to underline the sentiment. "But I am not stupid enough to go chasing after shadows. Champion Simmons, your recommendations, if you please."

"Before anything else, Ma'am, we must tend to our hurt capital ships," Simmons replied immediately, his tone clipped. "Especially Menelaus - she's limping and we can't have that. Thankfully, our engineers are reporting that they'll have her back up to specs in a couple of days, especially since French has allowed her some time in the field-repair yards. Meanwhile, we can deploy fighter patrols throughout the system, like French is doing. But it is imperative that we keep the rest of the battle-line out of danger for now."

"Are you saying that we should squat on our haunches and wait, Sir Champion?" Aretha replied, frustrated. "Have nine of the best ships New Britannia has ever built just...linger, while French and our enemy grind away at each other? If you think that looking for a bloody scrap is unwise, I'll trust your judgement, but surely we could at least join French's operations. Do something to leverage our ships?"

A quick look around her officers' faces saw a mixed response. Commodores Ramsworth, Dawson and Walpole of the Oak, Cyclops and Atreus seemed to agree with her, if their grim, determined expressions were anything to go by; but Commodore Davenport and Knights Sorensen and Carmichael of the Indefatigable, Invincible and Avalon seemed considerably less certain - even displeased in the latter's case. And the rest of her officers, including High Knight Fletcher, who commanded her Duke carriers, and Commodore Cookson of the Menelaus were exchanging concerned looks.

"Ma'am," Simmons said, after a few moments of awkward silence, "I strongly recommend we keep the battle-line out of combat, until all our ships are ready. If you desire, deploy the Dukes in support of Arc Victoria; but for God's sake, don't engage with the capitals for now."

Some confident nods from what Aretha had labeled as the 'cautious' block. A low 'hear-hear!' from Fletcher, even. Aretha took a deep breath; searched not-so-deep inside her for her anger and frustration; wrapped them up in a little burning-coal-like ball and set them aside for now. "Explain, Sir, if you please."

"Ma'am..." Simmons ran his bony fingers through his grey-white hair, his wrinkled face a grimace of dismay. "...we are a very unconventional force. We don't have staying power. At all. We have a limited escort fleet; little with regards to extended supply or field-repair capabilities and little tactical flexibility. What we do have, is a God-almighty battle-line, concentrated to a point of our choosing; a relatively secure base of operations provided by our allies; and the scouting element to find the enemy. Ma'am, from a strategic viewpoint, we are a massive wrecking ball and we can come crashing down on the Delest anywhere on the system with maybe an hour's warning."

"And that's it," Sorensen interjected, darkly.

"And that's it," Simmons agreed. "We can do that really well, but that's all we can do. This fleet is simply not built to split up. If we do that, we're just feeding the Delest isolated ships, without the equivalent of French's logistics structure to back us up. So we'd have a permanently crippled battle-line, with ships constantly rotating back to the field repair yards - and there's nothing to guarantee that yard space will be available, with French in the fight. We could challenge the Delest now, pick a strategic target and come down on it like the wrath of God. But we'd do that without the Menelaus. And that's more than ten percent of our anti-capital firepower -and point defense. So when the Delest drop their next torpedo strike on us, we take more hits. And things snowball from there."

Her Champion shrugged slightly. "And, in a nutshell, we'd hit the Delest once, maybe wipe out one of their fleet elements. And then we'd have taken so much damage that we'd be out of the fight for the rest of the campaign."

"I understand," Aretha said, and she did understand, even if she didn't like it. "In a nutshell, Sir Champion, you are telling me that our strength is in our battle-line; and so our doctrine should be to never seek an engagement unless we can engage with the entirety of said battle-line."

Nods around the table; Ramsworth and Dawson seemed unhappy, but Walpole looked convinced. Simmons, likewise, nodded, with a tight-lipped smile. "In a nutshell, Your Grace, that is my argument."

"Very well," Aretha acquiesced, with a small scowl, "But I'll be damned if I sit here and twiddle my thumbs while we babysit French's supply ships during the time it takes for Menelaus to re-join the line. When the time comes, Ladies and Gentlemen -and it will come in the next few days- we'll need to have a solid plan on how to proceed. Sir Champion, you mentioned that, with our battle-line ready, we could give the Delest a damn good thrashing wherever we choose to engage? So, let's figure out where, exactly, we will be offering battle."

"Of course, Your Grace," Simmons replied; and there was some satisfaction and pride in his voice, Aretha noted. A small, well-hidden part of her rejoiced at the old soldier's approval. She was keenly aware of her own inexperience in most matters military, which is why she deferred to Simmons whenever possible; but she was determined to improve greatly on her basic grasp of military command and she seemed to be on the right track.

The holographic projectors of her briefing table hummed to life with a touch of her hand; and the same map that French had consulted blinked into existence, as the lights dimmed.

"We are in a target-rich environment," Aretha said, ruefully. "First things first, though: I have told French that we will not be joining him in crawling forward one asteroid at a time. I assume that you all agree with this?"

They did. Simmons nodded, deeply; the other officers also indicated their assent with 'hear-hears!' and, in some cases, rapping their knuckles on the table.

"And from what we've discussed so far, this makes sense, given our force composition," Aretha continued. "We want to keep our battle-line ready and push with all of our capitals against a single target, not disperse them over half a dozen balls of dirt. The question is, if we eliminate the asteroid mining facilities as our battlefield..."

The red strings-of-pearls of the Terconia belt mines and refineries winked out.

"...then what are our options? Based on the scouting information we have so far, I can identify four points of interest."

Her fingers danced on the holographic keypad on the armrest of her seat. Points of golden light materialised on the display; as Aretha addressed each one, thin brackets drew her officers' attention to them.

"Our first option are the Hōseki orbitals. It is reasonable to assume that they will be ferociously defended - and not just by Delest ships, but by static defenses and Starbases as well. This is by far the most dangerous target we might choose to engage, but the rewards will be proportional. Control over the orbitals will, essentially, grant us complete gravitic superiority over the planet itself.

"Our second option are the Sodesuka military shipyards, located here, over the moon of Saphaia. They are, likewise, of great strategic importance, as they are the only installation capable of repairing Delest capital ships that we know of in-system. We can expect them to be heavily defended. More importantly, BuInt has informed us that two major starbases are nearing the final stages of construction there; a strike would allow us to cripple them before they come online.

"Our third option is their supply base in the small fortress moon of Paru. Long-range patrols and scans lead us to estimate that almost a third of the military supplies, ammunition stockpiles and fuel are kept there. I hope I don't need to explain how significant a breakthrough it would be if we were to destroy or capture the facility.

"And, finally, our final target are the solar station arrays, near Terconia Secundus. They power most of the civilian infrastructure in-system and are comparable in output to our own SBSP arrays in Authuria. Taking them out would have French scream at us for blowing up vital infrastructure, but our analysts guarantee that any assault on them would undoubtably force a Delest response. They simply cannot afford not to defend them."

Aretha leaned back into her chair, steepling her fingers and meeting the eyes of her officers yet again. "Your input, Ladies and Gentlemen, if you please."

"With all due respect, Ma'am," Fletcher said, after a few seconds of silence, "I think we can scratch the orbitals as a potential target. Our goal is to lure out and crush their mobile assets, not occupy the planet. And certainly not to engage in a close-range fight with their orbital fortresses. My recommendation would be to aim for one of the peripheral targets: either one of the moons, or the SBSPs."

"I can only concur, Your Grace," Simmons stated with very little hesitation. "Our force is relatively mobile - pushing against an entire planet's worth of orbital fortifications would not be playing to our strengths. We would suffer avoidable losses."

"In that case, we find ourselves in agreement," Aretha granted them. "What of the other options, then?"

"My choice would be one of the moons, Your Grace," Walpole suggested, twirling a strand of her dark hair thoughtfully. "Leaning toward Paru, just for the benefit of depriving the Delest of their supply depots. Still - once again, we'll be going up against prepared static defenses: hardly an optimal course."

"Mmmh," Fletcher agreed. "I'll agree that the moons present the most tempting targets. The solar stations might draw a Delest response but, ultimately, the loss of civilian power infrastructure will hurt the Delest in the long term. Not now. We'll bloody their nose, but they'll just retreat to their military bases again, repair their ships and we'll just have to fight them again a few weeks later, when we've repaired our own battle damage. Not a winning proposition."

"Indeed," Ramsworth said, tapping his lips thoughtfully. "My preference would be the shipyards, actually. They have some static defenses, but not as much as a dedicated fortress; any damage to the shipyards will severely hurt Johnny Delest's capability to repair his ships and we might get a kill on those starbases before they become operational. That's a huge defensive investment by the Delest down the drain, without any returns."

"Shipyards, Your Grace," Sorensen nodded, laconic as ever. "Same reasons. They're good reasons."

Aretha took note of other nods and indications of assent around the table; her officers were reaching a consensus and, in all fairness, the arguments put forward made good sense to her. She glanced over to Simmons, who, while thoughtful, also gave a sharp nod of agreement at her unspoken query.

"Very well," she said, "the shipyards it is. Now, with Menelaus out of drydock in a few days, let's see how we can best leverage our forces. Mr. Fletcher, I believe that your fighters will serve as an excellent first strike element..."

« Last Edit: May 22, 2017, 04:21:56 pm by Enioch »
'Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent'  -Salvor Hardin, "Foundation"

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


Offline crizza

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I would laugh my ass off, if the two starbases are finished by the time of the attack and only sit inside their cradles to lure the enemy out :D
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Offline Enioch

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Return of the Jedi did that already. Give me some credit for originality  :P

The starbases are armed (I.e. their weapons have been installed) but they have no fire control (yet). They are fully armed but by no means fully operational (and no, I don't intend to cheat around that with Orakul). They are out of the fight, period.
'Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent'  -Salvor Hardin, "Foundation"

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

The Yonsakuren grinned from ear to ear. "You should watch yourself near Clan women. And some Clan men. I hear Yonsakuren can be quite aggressive in such matters. Heh."

That's it, I'm rooting for the Delest. A CRF victory has significantly lower odds of space Russian yaoi.


Offline Lorric

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I keep thinking of a panther on the prowl when Ermolai is involved for some reason.

I like this Yonsakuren concept of a good fight. Usually it's the reason for or the scale of the fighting that makes something a good fight. For them it's the fight itself.

Is being so up front about everything a Yonsakuren trait or just this character?

When I was reading, I too thought the shipyard the best target. Even without the tempting starbase targets. That would make the DD have to limp out of the system to get repaired if it's the only repair facility. A harder decision is whether to go straight in, go straight in once at full strength, or wait for French to draw some attention to himself and then go in. I really don't know. The longer you wait, the more prepared the DD is. I'm leaning towards waiting for French to draw some attention then attack. Because French's fleet alone was thought to be enough to do the job, and his slow advance strategy would have been factored in expecting DD reinforcements. So having both fleets attacking targets at the same time would put the DD under immense strain. If one fleet was thought to be enough to do the job, no need to be risky. Bring the full weight of both fleets down on the DD.

Top class stuff. Really high quality. :yes:


Offline Enioch

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I keep thinking of a panther on the prowl when Ermolai is involved for some reason.

Means I got the flavor right.  :p

My mental image of Ermolai (with thanks to PTerry) is human Greebo.

Keep in mind that most of the animal DNA spliced into the Yonsakuren comes from the Sursaa, a large predator native to Uuni, which bears some similarities to bears and big cats. This has affected Yonsakuren mannerisms to some extent.

Is being so up front about everything a Yonsakuren trait or just this character?

Why would a Yonsakuren not be upfront about something? Are you implying that social circumstances dictate the behaviour of Yonsakuren, instead of the other way around? Honestly....

(Yes, they're all like that. Quite like cats, actually)

The Yonsakuren grinned from ear to ear. "You should watch yourself near Clan women. And some Clan men. I hear Yonsakuren can be quite aggressive in such matters. Heh."

That's it, I'm rooting for the Delest. A CRF victory has significantly lower odds of space Russian yaoi.

Space Russian catboy yaoi. Anime universe, remember? Embrace the tropes, xeno (arguably NSFW).
Space Russian catboy yaoi not guaranteed
'Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent'  -Salvor Hardin, "Foundation"

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


Offline Droid803

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I suppose I should pop in and say I've been very much enjoying reading this :yes:


Offline Enioch

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Chapter 5, Part 1: Opening Exchange

In Orbit near the Sodesuka Shipyards - 16:42 Central System Time.

Arurior Ragunov was angry: a low, simmering exasperation, towards the universe in general, her inconsiderate commanding officer and, more importantly, the complete and utter pieces of junk he had saddled her with. She did not know what her sins had been, but they must have been pretty bad for her to be deserving of this.

She suspected that a lot of her resentment was because of the contrast between the different ships under her command. If she had been given a command that consisted entirely of what the Praetor charitably called 'Support Battle-Line' ships, she would have sighed and dealt with it. But she had retained command of her own darling Oichi only to have the albatrosses of the old capitals Petrograd and Sevastopol and the thrice-be-damned monitor Penza hung around her neck. And then Praetor Dyatlov had deployed her ragtag force here to keep the shipyards secure.

She had no illusions about how long her ships could last against the incoming juggernaut. If it came to it, and Dyatlov delayed or mistimed the deployment of her reinforcements, she would die. Very quickly.

"Ma'am," her communications officer piped up softly, well-aware of her miserable mood, "I have Ter-Iio Hayakawa on Channel 2."

"Patch him through to my station," Ragunov near-growled and threw herself sullenly into her captain's chair. She couldn't fault poor Hayakawa for the failings of his rust-heap of a vessel: he was a more-than-capable officer, who had been repeatedly sidelined on the path for promotion simply because of his lack of political backing. He was also a pleasant man and a good conversationalist. That said, she had come to dread (and almost resent) his calls, as they usually heralded some new problem on the Penza.

And yes, she scowled as his face came up on her private screen and a link was established with her earpiece, if his apologetic expression was anything to go by, this would be another fiasco.

"Lay it on me, Sasuke," she sighed under her breath.

"Cooling manifolds," he said, with a what-can-you-do shrug. "Busted all down her secondary port thruster. I've got damcon teams down there dealing with it now, but until then, you should know I can give you maybe sixty percent thrust. Or, you know, burn out the entirety of my port engine cluster."

"You're saying she's a wallowing pig," Ragunov moaned, her fingers massaging the bridge of her nose. She could feel the headache coming up.

"She's a wallowing pig," Hayakawa cofirmed ruefully, "more than she used to be, even. Until further notice. Sorry Stella."

"Urrrgh. Fine," Ragunov said, by now fully resigned to it. "Contact Sodesuka, I suppose. See if they have the time to squeeze you into...Dock 3, I think?"

"Understood. I'll- hold on," Hayakawa glanced to the side, listening to an off-camera officer's voice. "Wait. Are you getting this?"

"Getting wh-"

"Arurior!" came her communication officer's voice again, this time considerably more urgent. Ragunov looked up and met his eyes - he was quite pale, holding his earpiece in what she had come to know as his 'I don't like what I'm hearing' stance, wound up and nervous. "Incoming message from Central Command - priority Violet. Forwarding to your station, Channel 4."

"Hold one, Sasuke," Ragunov said and flicked between channels, her heart sinking. There were very few things that would warrant a Violet transmission and none of them promised a boring afternoon.

"All ships, Central," came the clipped voice of Arurior Sebrenova over the comms. "Orakul confirms enemy subspace activity in asteroid belts Epsilon and Kappa. Multiple capital signatures identified. Heavy subspace tunneling has also been traced towards point Sodesuka Alpha. Expect capital-grade incursion in less than half an hour from time of receipt. All asteroid garrisons, initiate De Tolly immediately upon receipt. All capital forces, move to reinforce Sodesuka Alpha; navigate for time of arrival 17:35 Central System Time. Arurior Ragunov, you have full conn on-site until the arrival of the flagship. All ships, please acknowledge upon receipt."


Ragunov keyed in the necessary response, her fingers moving like in a dream; her eyes moved lazily along the ghostly faces of her bridge personnel. Sounds seemed - muted, for lack of a better word; and there was an otherworldy quality to...well, everything around her.

No. No. Nonononono.

"B-Battle stations," she croaked; and the very act of doing so brought reality back in a blast of colour, sound and cold sweat running down her back. "Battle stations! Clear for action. Comms, contact the shipyards - order a full evacuation. They have less than half an hour. Then, get a line on the Vernosts, order them to form line of battle on us. Sasuke, get that pig of yours to cover the starbases until they can get their shields online. Launch every fighter we have. And sensors, for the Emperor's sake, focus on the approaches from the Andor starlance. I want to see them coming the minute they come in range."

Asteroid Belt Kappa, near Asteroid Refinery R-16 - 17:00 Central System Time.

Nelson emerged into realspace with a grace that belied its absurd weight; and then, with a flare of its massive thrusters it accellerated toward the hulking refinery R-16: a squat, sprawling angular tumour growing on the side of a large asteroid. Rodney, her sister-ship, dropped out of subspace on her side and maneuvered into formation, closely followed by a handful of Destroyers and the Duke-class Penelope.

On the flagship's bridge, Arc Champion Julius French smiled his thin, steely smile. "Sensors?"

"Link with Rodney and Tempest established, Sir," came the response. "PD net operational. Medium-range sensor feeds coming online, now - we have confirmed hostiles. Updating holotank, now."

A flicker in the holodisplay that dominated the centre of Nelson's CIC; and half-a-dozen red markings came to being around the massive return that represented the refinery. French squinted at the display, suspiciously. Three small ships were holding defensive positions in front of the installation; another was, apparently, at the final stages of undocking; and two more were burning hard away from the incoming CRF forces, their subspace drives already charging.

"Identifications on those ships?" the Champion asked.

"Hold one, Sir," the Sensor officer replied. "Trying to- there we go. The screening force is comprised of a Destroyer and two Frigates. The ship currently docked is another Frigate; and the ships fleeing are a Frigate and a freighter of sorts. Sir, this looks like an evacuation."

"Mhh," French agreed. "Any defensive measures? Mines? Sentry guns?"

"None that I can pick up, Sir. Hold one- yes, Rodney concurs. No power signatures beyond what we can see and any mines would have shown up on our active scans by now."

"Good." French leaned back in his command chair. "Mr. Walder, weapons free across the fleet. Get this rabble out of our way."

"Sir," came his Tactical Officer's curt reply.

The two CRF Dreadnoughts manoeuvered slightly, to bring their spinal beams to bear on the small Delest garrison and commenced their firing cycles. The escort ships fanned out, to give their larger brethren clear shots, but stayed in loose formation and their own sensors pinged the surrounding space constantly. French would take no more chances.

The Delest reaction could best be described as 'chaotic'. The Destroyer and one of the Frigates parked over the installation turned wildly and sought to open the range, at full burn. Sensors indicated that they had begun their jump cycles; but even a crash translation would take them time they didn't have. French immediately wrote them off as harmless to his fleet; they were clearly inexperienced, cowardly or both; and they would be dead shortly.

The second Frigate, on the other hand, was clearly conned by a capable commander. In a flare of tortured thrusters, her helmsman took her on a wild rolling flip, just over the top of the refinery and over the other side. Her weapons came online just before the installation's silhouette concealed her; and her particle emitters put accurate fire into the Ardent, the CRF Destroyer leading French's left flank.

"Bloody gnat," French heard his Tactical Officer murmur behind him. "Firing on the Destroyer."

The Nelson's spinal gun spoke, in a blinding flash of coherent light - and two thousand yards away, the Delest Destroyer was hit amidships. Her shields held, for a few brief seconds; and then something failed. The CRF beam speared right through shields, armor, hull and powerplant and out the other side, in a gout of flame and plasma; and a secondary explosion atomised the entirety of the Delest ship's aft. She tumbled off into space, completely and utterly dead.

Rodney fired a few seconds later; her own beam reaching out for the escaping Frigate. This Delest captain once again proved his inexperience, failing to engage in even the most basic of evasive manoeuvers. The CRF lance crumpled the tin can's shields like tissue paper and proceeded to carve its path through the entire length of the vessel. In a brief couple of seconds, the Delest ship was gone.

"And that, as they say, is that," French declared, satisfied. "Detach two Destroyers to harry the freighter and her escort, if they can catch up; meanwhile, hold fire. Bring us closer to the refinery and engage the docked Frigate with secondaries. Keep an eye out for the gnat."

"Aye aye, Sir. Detaching Ardent and Ajax."

As the CRF ships drew closer to the asteroid facility, the docked Frigate cast off and, with a couple of thruster bursts, moved towards the shadow of the asteroid. Her helmsman was good, French noted, keeping her a hair's breadth away from the massive installation.

"Getting power spikes on the fleeing ships, Sir," his Sensor Officer cried. "Imminent translation. And-"

Six thousand yards away, the fleeing ships disappeared in a flash of blue etheric light. "-and I'm also getting etheric resonance from the facility vicinity. The two Frigates have begun their jump cycle."

"Engage the visible one with secondaries as soon as you have a solid lock," French ordered. "Recall Ardent and Ajax and have them loop around the facility and engage the slippery one. And deploy Marine away teams. I want that installation secured and searched top to bottom."

"Aye, Sir. Secondaries clear to fire; Destroyers vectoring. Valiant and Vanguard are deploying assault troops."

Nelson ponderously swung to port, to unshadow her secondary batteries and her railguns peppered the fleeing Frigate's shields with a hailstorm of projectiles. The fleeing Delest ship staggered under the hits, but her shields held for the few seconds it took for her to get behind the cover of the asteroid and out of immediate danger. Meanwhile, two CRF Destroyers carefully descended upon the refinery, deploying assault pods; and another pair accellerated to get a clear field of fire behind the asteroid.

The first Delest Frigate chose that moment to come to meet them, her engines at full burn. Her manoeuver was well-planned and expertly executed: her course unavoidably put her inside the firing arcs of both the Ardent and Ajax, but the rest of the CRF fleet were still eclipsed by the asteroid's mass.

She steered right between the two CRF ships, which had to juke wildly to avoid a collision; her particle emitters focused solely on Ajax. The Destroyer's shields held under the hail of what, essentially, amounted to fighter-grade weaponry; but her sensors were drowned under the static of tortured ether and vaporised particles. As the Delest Frigate screamed past, she brought her single spinal grav pulser to bear on the Ardent, at the same time as the CRF Destroyer acquired a lock with her railguns.

Miniature singularities ripped into the shields and hull of the CRF ship; in return, hyperaccelerated slugs pummeled the Delest Frigate in the few seconds it took for her to swerve under her enemy's keel and disengage. She had suffered considerably: her engine cluster was sputtering and leaking burning fuel. The CRF vessels turned to pursue, Ardent streaming burning gas and atmo from several hull breaches. Too late; too late. Space flickered in front of the Delest ship, her subspace portal already forming. In a flash she was gone, crash jumping to safety.

The final Delest Frigate took that opportunity to make her final appearance, boosting away from the facility, a few thousand yards behind the CRF Destroyers. Her grav pulser spoke once, twice, three times, gouging a massive gash in Ardent's aft hull; and then she turned away, manoeuvering wildly while her jump engine completed her jump cycle.

She was, literally, seconds from safety, when the Penelope rose gracefully from behind the eclipsing asteroid and blasted her out of the sky with a perfectly executed energy broadside.

HIDMS Michiko, on subspace transit to Sodesuka shipyards - 17:30 Central System Time.

"Sir, urgent message from the Tanken," Comms cried out and Dyatlov and Sebrenova raised their eyes from the holotank in alarm. "And -please hold- from the Hishu as well. Iio Fiodry reports heavy incursions throughout the belt. Sir, the Tanto has just gone off line!"

"And that's French, goddamn him," Dyatlov seethed, his fists clenching. "We can't deal with him now. To all asteroid garrisons; confirm De Tolly and pull back to the Hōseki orbitals double time. Wait for further instructions there."

"Understood, Sir."

"Leytenant," Sebrenova added, her voice hard as steel. "Make sure you get De Tolly confirmations."

"Yes, ma'am!"

As the officer scrambled to oversee his frantic comms operators, Sebrenova moved closer to Dyatlov. "This is likely to go very wrong, very quickly," she hissed. "I did not expect them to coordinate this well."

"Indeed," Dyatlov agreed, in just over a whisper. "It's a good thing we started evacuating the asteroid fields yesterday. They're lost to us now."

They stared down the holotank, where the entirety of the Terconia system floated in glowing glory. Blue trails marked the trajectories of the Delest fleets, converging towards the Sodesuka shipyards and one of their enemies at what amounted to many times the speed of light; but a blot of red had also made its appearance in the godforsaken refineries that were now sure to cost Dyatlov his career. French was in the asteroid belts and Dyatlov knew full well that there was no dislodging him from there. Hopefully, the Arc Victoria Champion would be as methodical as he had been in the past in securing his prizes.

"Sir," came the Comms Officer's voice again, "I've got six out of ten confirmations so far. Latest transmission from the Sablya. She has just engaged the enemy and escaped from R-16. The refinery superintendant did not appreciate being evacuated at gunpoint, but they managed to get all civilians out. Molniya and Britva were lost with all hands, however."

"****!" Dyatlov spat, gritting his teeth. Britva had been one of his own, 5th Fleet, Frigates and one of his best on top of that. He could ill afford to lose ships and crews like that. "Well, there's nothing we can do. The Sablya is to fall back to the orbitals with the others and they are to stay there."

"Aye. Sir, two more De Tolly confirmations from Lopast and Fubuki. And...Sir, that's all we're gonna get. Hashidate and Bylinka are gone - with their freighters, I'm afraid."

And the civilian crews of at least six mining stations, Dyatlov knew but didn't add.

"Very well," Dyatlov nodded assent. "Comms, drop every surviving garrison ship off our net. They've done all they can and we can ill afford the distraction. Be prepared to link up with the other task forces as we emerge into realspace - the faster you can pull it off, the less casualties we're going to suffer. Arurior, the task force is yours; take us in."

"Aye, Sir," Sebrenova said, her voice ringing. "Tactical, link us up with the other caps. Grazhdanins take point. All weapons primed. Crews brace for battle translation."

The bridge of the Michiko had by no means been silent; but now it exploded into a maelstrom of activity, as orders were passed down to sub-stations and, through Comms, to Michiko's task force. The low, throaty whoop of the imminent translation alarm echoed across the ship and Delest sailors tightened their holds on crash harnesses, weapon controls, tools and their nerves.

"Time is 17:35," Sebrenova stated calmly for the logs, strapping herself into the commander's seat. "Drop, drop, drop."

With a surge of her massive reactors, Michiko ripped a hole from not there to there and, with the grace of a whale breaching the surface of the ocean, left Subspace behind her.

And emerged into Hell.

« Last Edit: May 22, 2017, 04:26:19 pm by Enioch »
'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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For your speculative reference: Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly
'Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent'  -Salvor Hardin, "Foundation"

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