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Author Topic: Near Citadel Arcadia  (Read 456 times)
Thaago
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« on: December 04, 2017, 10:31:08 PM »

December 4, Cycle 2017
Near Citadel Arcadia


We were ambushed just after dropping through the inner system jump point. Preliminary scans had multiple destroyer signatures and a cruiser. Normally I’d have the fleet avoid a target that hard but… well we were at a dead stop after exiting hyperspace, and they were going at a burn level that could not be good for their engines.

I stared at the tactical screen, sharply aware that the eyes of everyone on the bridge were on me. Showing the crew dread wouldn’t help anything. “Tasha, get me specs on that cruiser. What are we looking at here? Gus, open a fleetwide comm and call for battlestations!”

A flurry of activity broke out around me. I was sitting in my pride and joy, the Wolf class frigate Archanus. Only a few months before I had managed to get my hands on it, and now I was the commodore of a small fleet. Another Wolf flew off the port bow, the Nimbus, but it’s power systems and armor were shot to hell. Honestly it couldn’t fire for all that long before maxing out on flux, but it was still nimble enough to survive and be a flanking partner. In the center of our formation was the Victory, an old Hammerhead destroyer I’d just bought that I had high hopes for. Its targeting systems were poor so its long range accuracy wasn't that great, but the sheer firepower that its railguns and heavy mortars could lay down was impressive. The Better Luck Yesterday, a Condor class we all called the Lucky, flew right behind, with its Talons flying a tight space patrol. The portside autofac only worked about about half the time, though my second had welded the biggest damn torpedo launcher I’d ever seen onto it, the madman.

Noticing something about my ships? They weren’t exactly up to a Hegemony Response Fleet’s standard. Such is the life of a mercenary captain freshly discharged from the service, forced to scrounge for whatever they can get. A Mudskipper, Dram, and Shepherd provided logistical support, and they were all in pristine condition. For all the help that would be in a firefight.

“Sir” Tasha sounded worried “I’m reading… I’m reading a fully specced Assault Mora. Three wings of Warthogs, dual torpedo launchers, and bristling with guns. No signs of battle damage.”

I swore internally, thanking my many misspent nights for giving me a hell of a Sabacc face. Somewhere out there was a shipyard master who’d taken a hell of a bribe to let a Mora fall into pirate hands, and someday I would find them.

“They've also got… two Hammerheads, two Sunders, four Cerberi, two Hounds, three Kites, and a Condor. All scarred to *** and leaking rads but… Sir, what are we going to do?!”

Way back before life went to hell I’d been a promising cadet. In the academy we’d have to answer question after question. ‘What is the proper response to a Tri-Tach raid consisting of phase ships?’ ‘You are assaulting a pirate base, give a proper Enforcer line of battle.’ ‘If a Salamander is incoming on your rear, what vector change will keep a stock Lasher’s engine safe?’ And then of course we’d run whatever our answer was in the simulator. I was always praised for being unorthodox and aggressive. It made my career. And broke it.

“Form a line of battle. We fight head on.” The bridge went still and silent, the dull roar of the ship's engines suddenly loud.

A note to future captains: you don’t want your crew to see you scared, but you also don’t want them to think you’re crazy. That’ll get you spaced right quick. So when you say something like that doozy I’d just layed onto them? Explain it before one of them shoots you.

“We can’t get away clean. If we run we give their frigates free reign to burn parallel ahead of us and cut us off from the sides.” I let my gaze scan the bridge. “We get bogged down in a fight and their destroyers and heavy fighters will hit us in the rear and blow us to bits. The Archanus and Nimbus could probably get away clean, but I’m not willing to let everyone else die without a fight!”

To my surprise that actually got a small cheer. Apparently someone wasn’t appropriately cynical yet. I made a mental note to find out who and, if we both survived the day, let them know how the Sector worked.

“Gus, open that fleetwide channel. I’ve got a plan…”

---

Recognize that fleet composition? I got jumped barely after finishing the tutorial while playing iron man. To be continued...
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PCCL
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« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2017, 07:43:39 PM »

Very nice read Thaago! Looking forward to the continuation (assuming you don't just straight up die, that is)
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mmm.... tartiflette
AxleMC131
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« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2017, 09:00:16 PM »

Ooh, exciting! Thrilling! Gripping!  Shocked Can't wait for to see where this is going...
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"I ain't one to punch first, but if the mil' wants a piece of me tonight, then they're sure as hell gonna regret it in the morning!"
- Johnson "Johnny" Parker
MajorTheRed
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« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2017, 05:40:41 AM »

Great reading! It really set the mood of the sector!

(also, you're quite courageous to play in iron mode, the early game with Pirate fleet spawning in your face is not really my cup of tea to start with)
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Network Pesci
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« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2017, 10:31:55 AM »

They play Sabacc in StarSector?!?
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Thaago
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« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2017, 10:45:10 PM »

Very nice read Thaago! Looking forward to the continuation (assuming you don't just straight up die, that is)
Ooh, exciting! Thrilling! Gripping!  Shocked Can't wait for to see where this is going...
Great reading! It really set the mood of the sector!

(also, you're quite courageous to play in iron mode, the early game with Pirate fleet spawning in your face is not really my cup of tea to start with)
Thanks! I appreciate that you all took time to comment! Cheesy
I like iron man mode a lot, though about 1/5 games I have to scrub as a straight up loss. I've found myself retreating a lot more in battles than I used to - if I see things turn against me I get my fleet the out of dodge fast. Also I'm playing without mods atm, and the early game is much easier without them.

They play Sabacc in StarSector?!?
The ghost in the tritachyon's shell is actually a Sith Lord. Tongue
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Thaago
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« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2017, 10:50:03 PM »

“We’re approaching their jamming range sir. Five minutes.” We were all in hardened environment suits, talking possible only through the comms. I could still get somewhat of a read on how the bridge crew were doing by sight though. Gus and Tasha had a grim set to their faces that must have been similar to mine; they’d both been through hard battles and long odds. The younger ones though… Gabby’s panic had given way to eagerness, their blind faith in me somewhat disconcerting.

“Helm, signal the fleet. Transition to combat drives at the outer envelope.” I watched on our tactical display as the other ships sent their acknowledgement. Sixty seconds out the non-combat ships dropped from formation, each executing a twenty degree turn to port as a last parting salute before their own sensor jammers activated.

“Thirty seconds.”

The tactical information on the enemy switched from real time to stored log files and I hoped that the enemy wasn’t too clever. Jammers are standard, arcane devices that I honestly don’t fully understand, but they are as effective as they are short ranged. You can spy on an enemy fleet well enough to count the guns and still be a day or more's travel out, but once inside the jamming bubble you have to get within shooting distance to see them again. The best commanders could well and truly outmaneuver you during that blind period.

“Ten seconds!”

“Core to combat power! Charge weapons and brace for deceleration!” I counted down the last few seconds in my head. “Mark!” The fleet slowed as one with a precision born of the fact that a combat transition is completely computer controlled and my commands didn’t matter one bit. I still do it though. Call it a nervous habit, or a symptom of my underlying egotism, or a sign that of course I wasn’t proper Hegemony material. But we all have our rituals before going into battle, and at least mine sounds good.

“All systems nominal sir. Weapons hot.”

The tone of the ship went from a dull, low rumble to a fast, whining thrum as the power core pulled more and more energy from the vacuum. I glanced over to the engineering board and watched with satisfaction as the specially reinforced flux conduits I’d installed a week earlier kicked to life, carrying the hellish energies required for space warfare around the fragile living spaces and delicate field generators, to be vented into space.

Gus looked up from his display. “Battle network operational sir, and we’re broadcasting false data from all ships. It doesn’t look like the enemy is using any comm attack protocols.”

For all that stoic commander *** I keep telling the junior officers to do, I did crack a smile then. My plan relied heavily on the Victory being able to out-brawl the enemy destroyers, and between its own faulty sensors and the engine interference… well lets just say that the enemy needing to get just as close would go a long way towards evening the playing field.

I opened a fleetwide comm. “Ok people, lets do this. Victory, maintain your vector. Archanus and Nimbus, forward flanks. Lucky, Talons lead the way, but for the love of god keep yourself behind the rest of us. Everyone remember the priority targets and stay away from that Mora. Good luck, and listen for the break point.”

I was rewarded with a set of proximity alarms screaming in my ears as Talon wings Red and Gold buzzed the Archanus within our nominal shield radius. The pilots from the Lucky were as crazy as their commanding officer, but they both got the job done and were almost certain to die in this fight. I could cut them a little slack.

“Contact! Incoming Talons, two wings.” A faint vibration through the deckplates signalled our point defense turrets tracking the incoming threats. Despite being far out of range, Tasha had them locked on target.  Red and Gold wings shot forward, racing towards an equal number of enemies. “Our wings will be in missile range in two minutes.” We’d soon see how good the pirate pilots were.

Well, we would have if I were the type of commander who allowed my own fighter pilots to prove their honor and die bravely. That's a suckers game. Make the enemy die bravely instead as you use every possible dirty, underhanded trick against them.

“Helm, jump sequence!” My hands gripped the edges of the console in front of me in anticipation, and the Archanus tore a hole in reality. Everything shook itself apart, and when it put itself back together again we had leapt forward. My head swam and I had just enough time to remember how many limbs I was supposed to have when the whole thing happened again.

Reality ensued and Tasha snapped our shields up; we had jumped smack in front of a swarm of sixteen high explosive missiles. They would have been a threat if they were targeting us, but they weren’t; instead they were fired at Red and Gold wings, which we had leapfrogged. Three missiles splashed harmlessly against our shields, while our twin point defense lasers fried another six. The enemy Talons pulled aside sharply, trying to avoid our turret mount ion cannon; most did, but we caught one and it spun out of control, helpless. Red and Gold wings’ own missile screamed past us and the enemy, no longer head on, had no ability to shoot them down.

Bright flashes on a viewscreen. Dead soldiers. Red and Gold squadron’s Vulcans shredding the enemy in close quarters battle as the Archanus continued to shoot down enemy missiles.

We didn’t quite manage to destroy both wings before their reinforcements arrived. Two hounds, three kites, and four Cerberi, flying in close formation, was a little too much for the Archanus to face alone, so I signalled us to reverse thrust and pull back to the Nimbus and Victory. But right behind them was what really scared me; three full Warthog wings. Ultraheavy attack fighters equipped with ship grade high explosive rounds, each a solid block of armor that could take more punishment than a light frigate. Staggered lines, professional deployment, and on a vector to intercept the Victory, the only ship we had capable of taking down the four attack destroyers burning in.

I toggled open the command channel. “Nimbus, close escort on me. Damage control teams: prepare for armor breaches.”

---

Alternative last line: "Gus, hold my beer, I've got this."
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AxleMC131
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« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2017, 12:36:25 AM »

The battle commences! Love some of the details you're going into here, and bringing a new light to some of the fundamental game mechanics one usually takes for granted.  Wink
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"I ain't one to punch first, but if the mil' wants a piece of me tonight, then they're sure as hell gonna regret it in the morning!"
- Johnson "Johnny" Parker
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