Author Topic: Let's be about it  (Read 26009 times)

Offline Silver Fox

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #25 on: June 24, 2014, 12:41:44 PM »
I think I am going to take a brief pause in writing at this point... my head hurts from so much writing so fast.

I also have over-run my plan by writing so much so soon. :) I know what happens in the Talbott Cluster, and back in Manticore... I'm not sure what happens at Spindle. LOL!

Don't fear, a day or two break at the most. I parallel to the segments here I am re-formatting the story more conventionally. I might make that version available in epub format, freely of course. Don't want to step on any copyright toes. :)

Offline Silver Fox

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #26 on: June 25, 2014, 05:52:12 AM »
Part XII: The Stage is Set

The Lynx Terminus was not well positioned to serve the Talbott cluster. Even for a warship as fast as Enterprise, the trip still took almost a week before Enterprise made planetfall at Spindle. Thomas reminded himself that from this point forward he must refer to the Star Empire of Manticore. San Martin, Lynx and Medusa had joined the original three Manitcoran planets of Manticore, Sphynx and Gryphon in the old Kingdom of Manticore. The planets of the Talbott Cluster had joined later, and the combination was now the Empire. It seemed strange to Thomas, who had grown up with only the original three systems.

Still, it was hard to argue that San Martin, Lynx and Medusa as Terminus systems didn’t belong. Once you allowed Lynx and San Martin to vote themselves into the Kingdom, the door was opened to allow the Talbott Cluster to join a larger union. Still it seemed strange to an old timer. No doubt future generations would think the original three system polity was ‘quaint’.

Arrival at Spindle brought with it the need to report to Tenth Fleet that Enterprise was on station. No sooner was that report made than Enterprise was contacted by Captain Cynthia Lecter, Chief of Staff to Admiral Gold Peak, Tenth Fleet’s Commander, “Captain Kirk, please to have you here. The Admiral has asked me to inquire if it would be convenient for you to repair on board in two hours?”

Thomas didn’t bother to hide his smile, “Of course Captain. I’ll call away my own cutter if that is acceptable?” Captain Lecter smiled back at the shared joke, “Thank you Captain, that would be fine. You’ll be receiving a full situation brief at that time and meeting with Admiral Gold Peak as well as the Governor General and several local government officials. You can consider this your courtesy call on all officials present.” Thomas considered that this would amount to quite a time saver, courtesy calls were necessary, but time consuming on a major change of station. “Captain Lecter, thank you very much.” Thomas began “I’ll see you in two hours.” Captain Lecter gave another smile, “I’ll be looking forward to it Captain Kirk.”

Thomas reflected that Captain Lecter had a very nice smile; foreign beers might not be the only thing worth exploring in Talbott space.

Thomas arrived on board HMS Artemis precisely on schedule, as was to be expected. He had elected to use the cutter from Galileo 7 once again; he had been impressed by the small craft skills of the pilot. The ritual for boarding a Queen’s ship complete he was met by Captain Lecter. “Captain Kirk, Cynthia Lecter. Pleased to meet you.” Captain Lecter offered her hand, and Thomas noted that she was an attractive woman. Trim, somewhat shorter than himself and with a smile that made her look younger than she must be. “Pleased to meet you as well Captain Lecter. Please call me Thomas, I’m afraid there are quite probably far too many ‘Captains’ about for clarity.” Thomas offered with a smile of his own.

Cynthia smiled, but with just a touch of confusion, “Thomas? I had thought it would be Jim. You really don’t look much like a Thomas.” Thomas was taken aback, “I used to go by Jim, I’ve only recently changed to using Thomas.” Cynthia frowned slightly, “Well Thomas it is. You should really consider changing back though. Jim suits you better.” Thomas decided he didn’t much like seeing a frown on Cynthia Lecter’s face, “I’ll consider it Cynthia, it may be something I have to grow into again.”

The meeting with Admiral Gold Peak and assembled local dignitaries was very business like. It was clear that 10th Fleet, indeed the entire Talbott Sector, was on a war footing. Present at the meeting were the Admiral an Imperial Governor General, as well as the Talbott Cluster Prime Minister, it’s Minister of War and several lower level ministers.

Admiral Gold Peak made introductions around the conference table and Thomas acknowledged all present in turn. “Captain, I wish we had more time to acclimate you to the Talbott Cluster. In truth we don’t. Tenth Fleet has to be prepared to defend the Lynx Terminus and the Cluster. Known threats include the Solarian League Navy, proxies of Manpower Incorporated seeking to destabilize the Cluster and the average problems any Verge area will encounter with pirates and slavers.” Admiral Gold Peak’s assessment was grim, despite the generous success that she had already accumulated against the SLN.

Admiral Gold Peak was about to continue when two new arrivals showed up. One was a Captain (Senior Grade), the other a grizzled Chief Petty Officer. Thomas recognized them immediately, and was unsurprised when Admiral Gold Peak named them as Captain Prescott (Scotty) Tremaine and Chief Warrant Officer Sir Horace Harkness. “Scotty, Sir Horace, I’ve just been explaining the Talbott situation to Captain Kirk” the Admiral began before turning to Thomas, “Captain, I’ll be attaching you administratively to Captain Tremaine’s Cruiser Division. I expect you will be acting independently most of your time here though.”

Scotty Tremaine nodded, “Yes Ma’am. I currently have deployed one CA and a DD as escort in the piracy suppression role in the north of the Cluster. Enterprise has her attached LAC, which gives her the same scouting ability as the two detached ships. Enterprise will have slightly less combat power, but it should be more than enough for piracy suppression. I’ll be tasking Enterprise to carry out that duty while the CA and DD rejoin the remainder of the Fleet.”

The remainder of the meeting went quickly, most of it was administrative matters dealing with getting the Talbott Cluster up to Manticoran standards as quick as possible. The Cluster needed to be able to aid in it’s own defence.

Once the meeting broke up, Thomas was stopped in the passageway by Captain Tremaine. “Captain Kirk. A moment please.” Thomas had been walking with Cynthia Lecter, who moved aside to allow the two Captain’s to speak with some privacy. “Of course sir.” Thomas replied, “How can I help you?” Scotty looked embarrassed. “Do you mind if I call you Thomas and you call me Scotty?” Thomas nodded and Scotty pressed on. “Normally you would be my second in command. I need your ship deployed though, which makes that normal appointment impractical.” Thomas smiled, “Of course Sir. Not many Cruiser Captains would complain of independent action vs. a staff appointment anyway.” Scotty smiled at the other Captain’s spirit he liked this man. Then Scotty sobered, “There is one other matter. I know you brought a full external load of pods equipped with Mk 23 missiles, including Apollo. I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to offload half of them to go to the rest of the Division. We will replace them with Mk 16 pods, but the Fleet is extremely short of the Mk 23’s.”

Now it was Thomas’ turn to sober. He could hardly refuse the order, but offloading that many of the longer-range Mk 23’s would remove a significant amount of his long-range punch. After a moment’s consideration Thomas replied, “Of course Sir. I should have anticipated the requirement. I’ll see to the swap immediately.”

Scotty brightened at the response and then grinned, “I do have some good news. Admiral Harrington sent a dispatch boat which included her tactical assessment of Enterprise. The engineers here have already assessed the requirements for your Ferret to be able to be used to strengthen your aft armament. The change isn’t that hard, well within the capabilities of the local shipyards with our support ships to assist. One of the local shipyards is already started design work on a prototype. We can use one of the local LAC’s for proof of concept trials.”

Thomas wasn’t sure he wanted the locals tampering with his ship, and it must have showed. “Don’t worry Thomas. Admiral Gold Peak would never let you get saddled with an unsuitable ship. It will work or stay on the drawing board, you have my word.” Scotty seemed completely assured, so Thomas relented. “As you say Sir. It would be a nice thing to have.”

Scotty took his leave and Cynthia Lecter collected Thomas to escort him back to his waiting cutter. Arriving at the boat bay containing his cutter, she told Thomas “Good Luck and Good Hunting Sir. You’ll have to tell me all about your ship over dinner some time.” With a smile she was gone.

Thomas thought the Talbott Cluster could definitely hold promise.

20 pages 10,567 words.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2014, 10:28:42 AM by Silver Fox »

Offline Silver Fox

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #27 on: June 25, 2014, 09:22:25 AM »
Part XIII: To Pequod

The formal orders for HMS Enterprise assigned her to patrol the Pequod, Prairie and Nuncio systems in the ‘north’ of the Talbott Cluster. The amount of merchant shipping had climbed rapidly in the area since the Annexation by Manticore. Along with an increase in the amount of shipping had come a massive increase in the value of the cargos. Manticore was committed to bringing the new territories up to a better standard of living as fast as possible, this meant that vast amounts of modern equipment and training materials were almost always in transit.

Nuncio in particular saw quite heavy traffic. With a planetary population of only 350 million people, and two habitable planets in the system, Nuncio was an attractive system for investment. That investment had brought pirates out of the woodwork. Local detachments of LACs had helped, but the pirates were crafty, the LACs couldn’t be everywhere and the pirates only struck when it looked like they had a chance to raid and escape.

If traffic in Nuncio was heavy, Pequod was the most varied. In Pequod ships from the various planets of The Verge, New Tuscany, Manticore and the Solarian League were almost always present. The start of hostilities with the Solarian League meant that their shipping was to be excluded from Manticoran space, but there was no way of knowing what might still be enroute. The problem was made worse by the fact that ships arrived from all bearings, there was no accounting for where a ships last stop might have been.

Thomas spent the time enroute to Pequod formulating a plan. The ‘Frontier Mentality’ of The Verge meant that there were no established shipping routes. His first priority then would be to establish such routes. Once shipping started to arrive and depart on predictable bearings, the LACs could better manage the local pirate issue.

Examining the map of Cluster space Thomas noted that, in general terms, the Cluster was comprised of two concentric rings. This simplified his plan, each system in the outer ‘ring’ would have approach and departure vectors aligned with its nearest ‘same-ring’ neighbours. It would also have a similar approach/departure point that was common to all shipping coming from the other ‘ring’. In this way each system would have three arrival/departure points, rather than the entire plane of the ecliptic. Ships arriving at the outer ring would be expected to arrive at one of the two ‘neighbour’ arrival points.

The shipping concerns were likely to grumble, but if it reduced piracy losses they would put up with any minor inconvenience. Ships from outside of Manticoran space would be harder to convince, but here Thomas had a bigger hammer to use, comply or be excluded from the whole cluster. The Verge systems needed Manticoran goods far more than Manticore needed to sell them to them. He was sure that once it was explained, they would comply.

His plan complete, he ordered a change in course to the Rembrandt system. He knew from his brief that Rembrandt was a major shipping nexus and that several dispatch boats would be available. He planned to send one boat back to Spindle so that his plan could be vetted by the political leadership of the Cluster, and hopefully formally enacted. Having made his decision on how to proceed he asked for Midshipman Davis to meet him in the wardroom. A large number of hyperspace course needed to be calculated and she seemed like a good person to put in charge of the project. He didn’t expect her to do it all herself, but his seemed a good mix of practical exercise and a lesson in command. Davis would need to learn to trust those who were better at some tasks than she was, even as she was responsible for their work.

Offline elmayerle

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #28 on: June 25, 2014, 10:42:02 AM »
Yes, it's coming along quite nicely.  I daresay Nuncio's seen quite a traffic increase since HMS Hexapuma first visited there and I wonder just what will show up.

I did catch one typo, "...original three Manitcoran planets of Manticore, Sphynx and Gryphon Medusa..." should be "...original three Manitcoran planets of Manticore, Sphynx and Gryphon...".

Incidentally, I see from Baen's publishing schedule that a new sub-series, Manticore Ascendant, is premiering in October with, A Call to Duty, a novel length development of the story Timothy Zahn had in Beginnings.  The sub-series would seem to cover the growth of Manticore from a small polity in the middle of nowhere to a major interstellar power.  Going by the story in Beginnings, this looks quite promising.

Offline Silver Fox

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #29 on: June 25, 2014, 11:11:59 AM »
I caught the error as well, already fixed by the time you posted. :)

Is anyone else reading this still? I don't mind at this point... But I am curious. :)

Offline Silver Fox

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #30 on: June 26, 2014, 04:51:23 AM »
Part XIV: Here there be Pirates!

The course change to Rembrandt caused Enterprise to drop out of hyperspace well outside of the normal approach vectors. Strangely, the gravitic sensors picked up a contact soon after the entered normal space. The tactical officer, Lt. Commander Cumberland, reported the contact, “Sir, I have a frigate-sized contact that just lit off its drives. Bearing 214 mark 29. Current range is 9.6 light seconds, range opening slowly.”

“Just lit off its drives you say?” Thomas questioned, “Does the contact match anything in the database?” Rembrandt had a system defence fleet; it was possible that the contact was a member of that force. “Nothing in the database sir, contact now turning to pursue, accelerating at 375 gravities.”

Thomas brightened, “We may have a pirate that was lying doggo. I want our acceleration held to 320 G, and mask our emissions to make us look like a merchie. Not some local merchie though, I want us to look like a nice fat Manticoran merchantman. Switch our transponder to read as Sphynx Servitor. Also, try and keep our wedge facing the contact so he can’t see our hull.” Sphynx Servitor was one of the smaller Hauptman Shipping Cartel’s ships serving the Talbott Cluster. Right now, she was back in Manticore, but a pirate wouldn’t know that. Several of the bridge crew grinned; a Manticoran merchantman loaded with modern goods would be hard for a pirate to pass up.

Lt. Cormier’s head jerked up, “Sir receiving a message from the contact. They identify themselves as Manticoran Customs Vessel Prince Roger. We are ordered to heave to for customs inspection.” Several of the bridge crew chuckled, there were no Manticoran Customs Vessels in the Cluster as yet… and nothing that small would bear the name Prince Roger.

Thomas chuckle himself, the range to the contact had opened to almost 11 light seconds at this point, but already shrinking again. With it's superior acceleration the contact was overhauling them, just another few minutes and the contact would have them in beam range. Unfortunately for the ‘Prince Roger’, Enterprise held the contact in beam range now.

“Helm! Slew turn 65 degrees to port. Sidewall and defences active! Tactical, one graser shot across their bow!” Thomas was barking orders as fast as possible, “Comm, record message. Attention Prince Roger, this is Her Majesty’s Cruiser Enterprise. You are ordered to strike your wedge and surrender!”

Lt. Cormier responded, “On the chip Sir!” Thomas called “Transmit!”

‘Prince Roger’ didn’t respond via comm, but 10 seconds after Enterprise’s message went out the pirate’s wedge dropped and the ship went ballistic.

Thomas ordered the helm to “Open the range to 15 light seconds and hold us there.” To tactical he commanded, “Launch Galileo with a Marine boarding party. Let’s see what we’ve caught.”

‘Prince Roger’ turned out to be an ex-Monican frigate that had been sold for ‘scrap’ when the Technodyne Corporation had upgraded that system’s Navy. Apparently the scrap dealer, like so many others, had found it more profitable to sell the ship to ‘other interests’.

Those other interests had then turned to piracy as a way to fund the purchase of the ship.

Contact was made with Rembrandt, and despite the time lag involved in conversation over a range of nearly 40 light minutes, Enterprise found that there were no reported incidents of piracy in Rembrandt space.

Enterprise escorted the ex-Monican frigate to Rembrandt orbit and once there the crew of the pirate was handed over to Rembrandt authorities. Under questioning it was discovered that Enterprise had been the very first ship the pirates had intercepted. These pirates were out of the business for good, before they ever started. They wouldn’t be tried for piracy, they had never succeeded in that crime. At most they could be tried for impersonation of Queen’s officers. In any event, their ship would be seized, and the pirates imprisoned.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2014, 04:54:00 AM by Silver Fox »

Offline deathjester

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #31 on: June 26, 2014, 04:58:27 AM »
Of course we're still reading - this is bloody brilliant!!  You've really captured the feel of this book series...KEEP IT UP!1  MORE...MORE!!

Offline Silver Fox

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #32 on: June 26, 2014, 10:19:24 AM »
I just formatted my stories Malignant Mustelids, Canadian Cobras... Redux, Transport to Tactical and Jam It!/Old Crows into a single document covering Canada's Persian Excursion. That collection spans 24,085 words on 60 pages.

Encouraging... I'm obviously quite able to write things in this size bracket. I wasn't really conscious that I had done so already.

Now I can get back to Enterprise without worrying that I've bit off more than I can chew.

That I will leave to the SLN... soon enough :)

Offline Silver Fox

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #33 on: June 26, 2014, 11:24:58 AM »
Part XV: Landfall

While Enterprise was in Rembrandt orbit Thomas used the opportunity to fill her fusion reaction mass tanks from the orbital tank farms. He also consulted with the Rembrandt Trade Union about his plan to establish shipping corridors. Instead of resistance, he found enthusiastic cooperation. The Trade Union offered to implement the plan even without official approval of the government. The Trade Union would see about getting a dispatch boat sent to Spindle, and would include the new measures in messages to all its offices in other Cluster Systems.

Thomas had heard that there was some controversy about whether the RTU had been acting in the best interests of the Cluster, or its investors, in the period prior to Annexation. He couldn’t comment on that period, but it was clear the RTU was completely on side now. Their cooperation would be invaluable.

Sadly, the captured ex-Monican frigate turned out to be no prize. Thomas’ survey of the ship proved that it was far too small and poorly equipped to be bought into service. He lamented that his crew would be deprived of the prize money that a functional ship would have brought in.

Here again, the RTU surprised him. When Rembrandt naval architects surveyed the ship, they pronounced it sound and suitable for service. When he objected it was pointed out that Manticoran service had spoiled him, most Cluster systems had had no defensive vessels until the RMN had deployed its LAC’s. Suitably re-fitted, the little frigate would be the most powerful unit in many systems until such time as Manticoran fleet strength could be built up in the Cluster. Sensors, weapons and acceleration compensators would need to be replaced, but that was actually the work of a normal refit. The work shouldn’t take more than a few months. Based on the survey, Rembrandt decided to buy the frigate into service. The prize money wasn’t huge, but Thomas was extremely pleased to be able to announce it to his crew.

Enterprise
took its leave from Rembrandt in style. Instead of simply slewing the bow of the ship onto its new heading, the Bosun actually banked through a turn. Thomas asked about the banked turn and the Bosun told him “It just felt right. Enterprise is a fine ship, we might as well let people know it.” Thomas could hardly argue with ship’s pride. By now though, he had watched the old entertainment cubes, and thought about another Enterprise that banked through turns. Surprising himself, he found he really didn’t care. Instead of a reprimand he just said, “That’s fine Bosun, Enterprise should show some flair.”

Leaning back in his command chair he considered for a moment. “Bosun, you were right about Enterprise, she is a fine ship. Let’s show off some. Bring us to 560 gravities, let’s show Rembrandt what a starship can really do.” Enterprise charged across the Rembrandt system heading toward the hyperspace limit. Thomas mused that he couldn’t maintain this acceleration all the way to the wall, Enterprise would be going far too fast. Still, showing off a little couldn’t hurt.

Behind Enterprise on Rembrandt, they had never heard of the old entertainment cubes. Most of the Rembrandt System Navy saw Enterprise break orbit though, to them Captain Kirk and Enterprise exuded style… it was how a starship and her Captain should behave.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2014, 11:27:01 AM by Silver Fox »

Offline Silver Fox

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #34 on: June 26, 2014, 11:00:58 PM »
For those interested in the Honorverse, most of the books are available freely from the old Baen Free Library CD images at Fifth Imperium.

You'll need to download an unzip the various packages to find the books, and there are duplications... but you can find them here: http://baencd.thefifthimperium.com/

There is a lot of other Science Fiction included in those collections, well worth the time it takes to download and sort out.

Offline Silver Fox

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #35 on: June 27, 2014, 03:31:19 AM »
Part XVI: ZULU!

Enterprise spent the next two months in uneventful patrols of the Pequod, Prairie and Nuncio “Northern Flank’. The only remarkable thing about the whole period was the level of traffic around Nuncio. A system population of only 350 million couldn’t begin to explain why so many vessels were calling there. Certainly Manticoran vessels were involved in the education and infrastructure rebuilding program in Nuncio in earnest… but why were all the independents from neighbouring systems coming to Nuncio?

After the third visit to Nuncio, Enterprise made a side-trip to Rembrandt. Rembrandt was well positioned to serve as a logistics centre for the ‘Northern Flank’ and Enterprise met there with a Fleet Support ship to restock food and other consumable stores. Thomas also met with representatives of the RTU and found that reports of piracy reports were down across the area. Apparently the shipping corridors were working, but Thomas realized he had never heard back from Cluster officials on the idea. The RTU official cleared up his confusion instantly, “We forwarded the plan Captain. The only response we got was ‘shipping plan enacted as requested’; it seems that the government is rather busy.

Enterprise was scheduled to remain at Rembrandt for a week, but three days into her stay Captain Kirk found himself summoned from dinner at a local restaurant for an urgent comm message. He took the call at the restaurant’s terminal and was shocked at what he heard. On the line was Lt. Cormier, “Sir, a fleet dispatch boat dropped into Rembrandt space 6 minutes ago. We issued the standard challenge via grav-pulse. Sir, the dispatch boat responded by fluttering her wedge. Three cycles then repeated!” Thomas stiffened, dispatch boats were too small to accommodate the grav-pulse transmitters that would allow communication, but they could use their wedges to send messages slowly.

The dispatch boat hadn’t sent a message though, it had just fluttered its wedge. That message was clear enough. The dispatch boat had something to say, but it wasn’t allowed to send the message in the clear.

“Lt. Cormier, what is that boat doing now?” Thomas needed to know just what the boat was up to. “Sir the boat has accelerated to 675g, direct course for Rembrandt orbit.” Lt Cormier’s image looked concerned, as well he might be. 675 g was high, even for a small, overpowered vessel like a dispatch boat. That crew was pushing hard.

“Lieutenant, send Galileo to pick me up. In addition, start a complete crew recall and make preparations to get underway. I have a feeling that our shore leave has just come to an end.” Thomas was already running through the state of his command in his mind. Enterprise was ready for just about anything, or so he thought. “Yes sir, I’ll get on it right away.” Lt. Cormier looked relieved that his Captain was making the decisions.

Thomas and Enterprise had less time than he thought. Immediately after recognizing that an RMN vessels was in orbit the crew of the dispatch boat had transmitted its message using fleet security protocols. The dispatch boat was still 16 hours from orbit when Lt Cormier sat bolt upright in his seat aboard Enterprise, “Captain! The dispatch boat is sending, ZULU! ZULU! ZULU!” Thomas, and the rest of the bridge, crew sat bolt upright. Code ZULU was the code for ‘Invasion Imminent’.

Lt. Cormier continued, “Sir, there is an embedded message from the Flag, and a specific message for Enterprise.” Thomas shook himself then turned to the Comm station, “Samuel, play the message for us first and then the general message from the Flag.”

The screen lit up with the image of Admiral Gold Peak, “Captain Kirk, I am anticipating incursion of Spindle space by major units of the Solarian League Navy. They have badly underestimated just how far outclassed they are, but I doubt they will go away just because I tell them to. I anticipate that 10th Fleet will be required to engage and destroy the SLN units. You are to consider that a de facto state of War exists between the Solarian League and the Star Empire. I wish there were time for you to join the Fleet, but there isn’t. Enterprise is to hold the Northern Flank. I am placing you in command of all forces not attached to the Fleet. May God have mercy on us all Jim.”

Thomas didn’t even flinch when the Admiral had called him Jim instead of Thomas, she was obviously just a little bit preoccupied. “Samuel, let’s have the other message please.”

The fleet-general message was little more than a recap of what they already knew. The Star Empire of Manticore was in a shooting war with Solarian League, a star nation larger than all others combined and possessing a Navy sized to match. The RMN held a decisive qualitative advantage, but could they kill SLN ships fast enough for it to matter?

Offline elmayerle

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #36 on: June 27, 2014, 09:35:33 AM »
Yes,  indeed, the SLN will quite surely bite off rather more than they can chew.  I loved that touch with the erstwhile pirate (really, they couldn't do anything right nor catch a break).  It should be rather interesting to see what eventuates in Thomas Kirk's area of responsibility now that Adm. Gold Peak has  rather other fish to fry.  It should be fascinating to see who tries something.

Is the anticipated attack the one commanded by SLN Adm. Crandall?  That could have some very interesting repurcussions in the area of responsibility Captaint Kirk now has.

BTW, if someone's really desperate, I have most of the Honorverse Baen CD's and while they don't have the very latest entries in the series, they have most of them and I'll be glad to transfer the files if asked (as long as I do it at no profit, Baen has already given permission for that).  *wry chuckle* It's amusing, really, Baen's ebooks originally started out as advertising and grew from there.

Offline Silver Fox

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #37 on: June 27, 2014, 10:20:15 AM »
Yes, I couldn't help but smile while writing the bit about the pirate... their very first try and the intercept an RMN heavy cruiser. The only thing that did go right for them is that they aren't actually pirates. They go to jail, not the gallows.

Can you imagine the look on the pirate Captain's face when the grazer opens up and the message is received? If it hadn't been a shot across the bow, he'd never have known what the message said. No Verge frigate is going to take an RMN cruiser on and live. :)

And yes... Admiral Crandall is about to get to learn what it is to stick one's generative organs into a meat grinder. :)
« Last Edit: June 27, 2014, 10:22:30 AM by Silver Fox »

Offline Silver Fox

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #38 on: June 27, 2014, 12:06:55 PM »
My work schedule has been adjusted for the coming week.. and it's ugly. I'm going to be working 12/12 for 5 consecutive days.

Apologies, but updates will be thin. I will try and get the current section I'm working on finished. It's a better cliff hanger. ;)

Offline Silver Fox

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #39 on: June 28, 2014, 02:18:14 AM »
Part XVII: A Mystery

Captain and crew of Enterprise couldn’t help but feel that they were going in the wrong direction. The Fleet was in a fight for its life at Spindle, perhaps even a fight for the very life of the Star Empire… and Enterprise was cruising back out to the Northern Flank of the Cluster.

Thomas tried to distract himself with the mystery of all the traffic at Nuncio, but he lacked important facts and he knew it. The crew had no such distraction and crew morale was suffering as a result. Thomas considered everything he could think of, including a dedicated drill schedule, but that seemed like punishment for a crew that had done well and come together in the last few months.

Thomas called his First Officer, Commander Harbin Durling, to his cabin to discuss the morale issue. “Harbin, I’ve been thinking of crew morale. It seems to be slipping with us heading out to the Rim.” “I know Sir. I’m sorry you noticed it, I’ve tried what I can. I was hoping to correct the issue before it came to your attention.” Commander Harbin sounded hurt, as if the Captain was admonishing him for some failure.

“Harbin, it’s not your fault that the crew feels the way they do, or that you haven’t been able to fix it. We all feel like we are running while the Fleet is in a desperate battle.” Thomas realized, belatedly, that even his First Officer was on edge. “We need something to pull the crew together, some way to dispel this feeling of helplessness that has all of us in its grasp.”

The two officers tossed ideas around for over an hour, and came up with nothing that even seemed remotely likely to work. Mugs of Old Tillman had been brought, drunk and refilled. The steward had brought sandwiches, and Thomas found he couldn’t even recall how long ago that was. Captain and Exec were getting frustrated at their failure to come up with anything to help crew morale when the steward timidly made her presence known, “Sir? I have a suggestion, if it would acceptable?” Regina actually sounded contrite, something unusual in a steward.

“Go ahead Regina, what do you have in mind?” Thomas was frustrated enough at the issue that any council would have been welcome.

“Well Sir. It occurs to me that we are HMS Enterprise, commanded by James T. Kirk. But, we aren’t the Enterprise under command of James T. Kirk. Respectively, Sir.” Thomas was stunned, and must have looked it, “Regina, are you suggesting that we actually adopt the manner of that ship and crew from the old 2D cubes?”

Regina looked abashed, as well she might, “Sir, about 2/3’s of the crew are fans at this point. It can’t hurt, can it?” Thomas considered the suggestion for a few seconds while Regina actually fidgeted. Then he decided and turned to his First Officer with a grin… “Opinions, ‘Mr. Spock?’”

Commander Durling grinned back at his Commanding Officer, “I can take it if you can Sir. I’m just the trusty sidekick. It should be…. Fascinating.”

The Bosun was called into the conference, for the concept to work the crew would have to be fully involved. When the idea was explained to the Bosun, he reacted with relief, “Well Sir, I think it would be a good thing. So many of the crew are fans, and up until now, they’ve felt that they have to hide the little parallels they find or create. Adopting them openly would certainly make the crew happier.”

The three men worked for two more hours, with occasional contributions from Regina. Sometimes those contributions were snacks or beer, sometimes an actual suggestion on how to implement their plan. Finally Thomas was satisfied and pronounced, “OK Gentlemen, we have a plan. This is how we will proceed…”

Over the next several days a number of small changes were introduced into ship’s routine or systems. None of the changes were substantive, and all were within the normal purview of a Commanding Officer to change or adjust. The first change noticeable by the crew was the replacement of the soft ‘gong’ sound made by the communication system. The new sound was the electronic ‘chirp’ familiar to the fans of the entertainment cubes.

The crew assumed the Communications Officer, or one of his ratings, was having fun while the Captain was not around. The first time it sounded, with the Captain on the bridge, several crew members looked around in horror. Thomas hid his grin, selected the comm panel on his command chair and merely responded, “Kirk here.”

By the time Enterprise arrived back at Nuncio a half-dozen small changes had been made in ship’s operation. Crew morale had rebounded handily and Thomas was certain that Enterprise, and her crew, could handle anything that was thrown at them.

The LAC detachment at Nuncio was operating without a support vessel and spares for the LAC’s was one of the priority items Enterprise had loaded at Rembrandt. Many of the Nuncio LAC’s were operating well below optimal when Enterprise returned, in fact only three were fully operational.

Thomas deployed Galileo 7 to assist in securing local space while Enterprise would use it’s LAC bay to conduct repairs on the local LAC detachment. Thomas reflected that this mode of operation had never even been considered, but had obvious applications in system defence roles. He could easily imagine cruisers such as Enterprise playing ‘mothership’ to small fleets of LAC’s for defence of forward operating bases. LAC Carriers could do a better job, but those were always in short supply.

Eighteen hours into the repair cycle Galileo 7 reported a strange contact on its electronic warfare system. The command pilot reported, “Enterprise, we’ve picked up a whisker laser transmission from Basilica. The laser was not aligned with Pontifex; it was heading out-system. Our systems are trying to break the coding now.”

The report was concerning for two reasons. First, Basilica had been abandoned early in the colony’s history and was supposed to be uninhabited. Second, there wasn’t anyone else to talk to in the system except the inhabited planet of Pontifex. Thomas ordered Galileo 7 to proceed along the laser’s direction to attempt to determine who was listening. Enterprise would investigate the ‘uninhabited’ planet of Basilica. Both missions were to proceed using a maximum of stealth, someone was trying to keep the communication secret. There was no point in advertising that they had been discovered.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2014, 02:20:16 AM by Silver Fox »

Offline Silver Fox

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #40 on: June 28, 2014, 10:22:20 PM »
Part XVIII: A Threat Emerges

Enterprise arrived in the vicinity of Basilica and launched a stealthed recon drone to survey the planet. It discovered that the ‘uninhabited’ planet housed over 200,000 inhabitants. Careful analysis of the signals emanating from Basilica discovered a large amount of short-range radio chatter that indicated the planet was being used as, of all things, a prison planet.

An unauthorized prison planet would be bad enough, but the analysis also showed that the signals were of Solarian League origin. It appeared that the Sollies had been dumpling people on the planet for at least a decade. Nuncio had a rather weak system navy, and even for the SLN, or Frontier Security, it would have been no great difficulty to slip vessels into the system unnoticed.

The arrival of the RMN in the area had forced the Sollies to become more circumspect. They now appeared to be masking the various comings and goings of their ships as Verge transports looking to pick up stray cargoes. Undoubtedly, the empty transports arriving at Pontifex had just finished offloading their real cargo of supplies at Basilica.

Thomas reflected that the laser transmission that Galileo 7 had intercepted was probably a result of his shipping lane policy. The designated arrival and departure points would have made it much harder to slip an unexpected ship into the system unnoticed. It was very possible the prison was running short of supplies.

Thomas lamented that modern RMN ships carried only a handful of Marines, 200,000 prisoners in the prison would mean a fair number of guards, and he wasn’t sure his Marine detachment could handle that many. He called his Marine detachment commander to his quarters to plan how taking the prison could be accomplished. One thing he was sure of was that without taking the prison, he would never be able to find out just why the Sollies had built a prison here.

The MarDet commander, a “Major’ by courtesy since there could be only one Captain aboard ship, arrived and Thomas explained the problem. The MarDet commander was confused, explaining his difficulty he asked a basic question, “Sir? Why don’t we just call for troops from Pontifex?”

Thomas almost slapped himself with the enormous blunder he had made. He was used to thinking in terms of the assets aboard his vessel, and he almost forgot that he had a planetary population to call on. Thanking the Major, he composed a message to Nuncio System Command, asking what troops were available and how soon they could arrive. He also explained that stealth was of the utmost importance, he didn’t want the inhabitants to know what was happening until it was too late.

Nuncio System Command responded within two hours, the delay resulting from determining available lift rather than being imposed by distance. Nuncio had an available grav-pulse communication system and message transmission was slow, but receipt was instantaneous. When Nuncio responded, Thomas found he had 14 hours before Nuncian forces arrived. He used that time having his recon drones make detailed maps of the inhabited area of Basilica. He enlisted his MarDet commander to ensure that any feature of tactical significance was included in the maps.

Nuncio didn’t send just any troops, nor did they rely on numbers rather than quality. The Nuncian contingent consisted of only two reinforced companies of their Army… but both were Special Forces, skilled in urban pacification operations. Sadly, Nuncian history had provided many opportunities for such skills to be retained. As big a contribution as the Nuncian Special Forces could make, it was how they arrived that almost guaranteed success.

The Nuncians had seized a Solarian designed freighter 6 months ago. The freighter was crewed by a group of smugglers who also appeared to not shy away from the occasional slave trading. Examination of the ship had found the crew in violation of the ‘equipment clause’ of the Chertwell Convention. Ship, and lives of the crew, had both been forfeit.

Nuncio had no need for a slaver, nor a cargo vessel. When the Nuncio System Defence force had examined the ship though, they were struck at how closely it resembled a smaller example of a naval assault vessel. The ship had a generous life support capacity (shipping slaves who didn’t live to be sold was not profitable) and was equipped with four rough-field capable heavy lift shuttles. Refitting had taken three months, and now the ship was in service as NNS Redeemer. Redeemer had the landing capacity to land the entire assault force, leaving the two assault shuttles from Enterprise to fly ground support.

Offline Silver Fox

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #41 on: June 29, 2014, 09:55:36 PM »
Part XIX: The Plot

The assault on Basilica turned out to be almost anti-climactic. There wasn’t a large force of guards on the planet at all, just a rather modest sized constabulary. The combined Nuncian/Manticoran forces swept across the settlement with ease… and were frequently welcomed as saviours. That welcome was offered not only by the ‘prisoners’, but also by the Frontier Security Forces that formed the constabulary. The whole situation was becoming more confusing as more information became available.

Once the situation on the ground had stabilized, and a message sent to Pontifex to request police forces rather than combat troops, it became possible to conduct a thorough investigation. The investigation revealed that the settlement was desperately short of food. Examination of the computer records revealed that, unknown to the settlers, the food shortage was actually planned.

It had long been rumoured that Frontier Security had staged ‘civilian uprisings’ on planets desired as ‘protectorates’. In this case the Sollies had planned to seize an entire system by planting a colony on one planet, having it descend into anarchy through lack of food… and then blame the other planet in the system for a situation they had no hand in. Essentially, one planet would be held responsible for the failure of an illegal colony it had had no knowledge of.

The plan to seize Nuncio through this method had apparently been far along when the Manticorans discovered the Lynx Wormhole Junction. Frontier Security had immediately accelerated its plan, but reducing a planet to starvation levels takes time. The anti-piracy measures enacted by Thomas had actually helped the Sollies, at least insofar as shifting the blame to the Manticorans was concerned.

The plan had started to come apart for Frontier Security when the Nuncian standard of living had started to rise. The Nuncian had happily broadcast their new-found circumstance planet wide… and the signals had been received on Basilica. Initial reports had been dismissed as propaganda, but the first reports of demonstration against the slow pace of improvement started to convince the unwilling colonists.

Reports brought in by the few truly independent tramp freighters confirmed the broadcast reports… as did the few pieces of Manticoran goods the freighters managed to bring in. Before long, most of the transported colonists believed in Manticoran largesse. The  Frontier Security forces on the planet were harder to convince. Those forces though had traditionally been conscripted from the poorest of Frontier Security hellholes. They had first-hand experience with how the Solarian League went about ‘assimilating’ new planets. Signs that the Manticorans were truly as good as their words convinced all but a few holdouts.

The investigation eventually turned to the most secure Frontier Security databases. What was discovered there was disturbing, a ‘suitably large’ Frontier Security force was to be sent to put down the food riots and ‘general disturbance’ in the Nuncio system. How large a force was being sent was not revealed, nor was an exact arrival time. There was an assessment of how large a force of Royal Manticoran Navy vessels might be encountered in the system. Frontier Security anticipated that two ‘neo-barb’ battlecruisers, with attached suitable screen’, might be assigned to hold the system. The ‘suitably large’ force was anticipated to be able to sweep aside the battlecruisers.

Thomas had Enterprise,  a single heavy cruiser, instead of a pair of battlecruisers… and he still had the responsibility to hold the system against whatever the Sollies might be sending.

Offline Silver Fox

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #42 on: June 29, 2014, 09:58:29 PM »
Smaller chunks, but what I can write in the free time I have.

Hopefully it keeps folks interested. :)

Offline deathjester

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #43 on: June 30, 2014, 04:43:03 AM »
Oh yes -  starting (and continuing) to sound GOOD!!

Offline Silver Fox

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #44 on: July 01, 2014, 10:04:02 PM »
Part XX: Opening Gambit

Thomas set course for the listening post that had been receiving signals from Basilica. A 'suitably large force' from Frontier Fleet could mean almost anything, but Thomas was willing to bet it would arrive in the form of a light Task Group. Enterprise would take position near the listening post and deploy a shell of recon drones, backed by Galileo, to keep the area under surveillance. Several of the drones would be deployed outside the hyper limit in case the Sollie commander was smarter, or more subtle, than average. It wasn't likely, but guarding against all probabilities kept one alive in space.

Thomas had two other measures he could take. First, he had the Pontifex dispatch boat take a Code Zulu message to Rembrandt. From there it could be spread to the remainder of the Cluster. Second, Enterprise, like all heavy cruisers, carried a small number of mines. The traditional use of the mines was to interdict planets which harboured pirates. The mines could keep ships from departing a planet while the parent cruiser dealt with any pirate vessel in space.

The RMN had always planned to win the war against Haven, so even wartime cruiser classes maintained the mines. The Saganami-C class carried 60 mines. Enterprise' redesigned after hammerhead had cost her the starboard mine magazine space, it now served as a magazine for weapons used by the cutter attached to Galileo 7.

Thomas had the mines offloaded so that Galileo could position them in a loose shell around the Sollie listening post. Chances were low that any Frontier Fleet ship would stray close enough for the mines to do any good, but the possibility did exist. So out went Enterprise' meagre supply of mines.

Preparations made, Enterprise and her crew settled in to await the Solarians. They had no idea how long the wait might be, or what was coming. They did know, from Admiral Gold Peak's message, that Enterprise was on her own.

Eight days later, Enterprise was just over one light-hour from the listening post when Galileo reported the hyperspace emergence of multiple Solarian units. What Galileo reported could hardly be called good news.

Frontier Fleet hadn't sent a Light Task Group, it was closer to a Light Task Force. Galileo reported an Indefatigable-class battlecruiser escorted by two Mikasa-class heavy cruisers, a single Bridgeport-class light cruiser and four Rampart-class destroyers.

What Enterprise faced was bad enough, but it seemed to be half-strength; half a BC division, half a CA division and half a DD squadron, albeit with its CL command ship present. Enterprise would be in real trouble should the other half of these forces show up!

Fortunately, Enterprise had been operating under stealth, there was no chance the Sollies even knew Enterprise was even here.

"Second emergence detected! Designating as Force Beta. Looks like a second BC, another pair of CA's and a single contact, approx. 6 million tons. Designating first group as Force Alpha" The tactical officer's report caused very head on the bridge to snap around. That 'single' contact could very well be a dreadnaught or a smaller superdreadnaught.


Reason For Edit: Readability, Form and small Grammatical Errors.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2014, 06:30:56 AM by Silver Fox »

Offline elmayerle

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #45 on: July 02, 2014, 12:40:49 AM »
I'd hazard a guess, based on known SLN operational modes, that the single large contact is probably a transport with occupation troops for both Basilica and Nuncio; it should be interesting to learn the truth.  It won't be a fair fight, but it's nowhere near as lop-sided as Frontier Fleet will expect since they still haven't realized that they aren't the most advanced or powerful navy in the known galaxy; the Mark 16 DDMs, even the basic ones available at this time, are going to be a rude surprise.  I just re-read the description of the Saganami-C class in House of Steel and I reckon this situation bodes to thoroughly test out the results of BuShips simulations; it's likely going to be a close-run battle but I suspect that, even if this Frontier Fleet task force has a competent commander and captains (I know, even on the sharp edge, that's questionable for the SLN), quality and training of personnel is going to matter and, here, the RMN definitely has the edge.
« Last Edit: July 02, 2014, 10:08:03 AM by elmayerle »

Offline Silver Fox

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #46 on: July 02, 2014, 07:44:35 AM »
Enterprise has one trick up her sleeve, called Galileo 7.

Unfortunately, she's also missing 1/2 her normal external pod load.

It will be fun, more so for some than others.

Offline Silver Fox

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #47 on: July 04, 2014, 02:58:46 AM »
Part XXI: Message Received

Rear Admiral Pontraine, commanding Frontier Fleet’s Task Group 1307.1, was annoyed. Instead of having his Task Group as a unified force he was required to escort a superdreadnaught-sized ‘Mythos-class’ assault transport. Having the transport arrive a the same time as the naval force might be standard procedure, but Frontier Fleet had never tried to take a planet from under the nose of someone as annoyingly capable as the Royal Manticoran Navy before.

Pontraine had contacts inside the SLN’s Office of Naval Intelligence. He couldn’t credit most of what he had heard from there, either it was obviously self-serving and under-rated… or scare-mongering that made out the Manticorans as three-headed monsters. Obviously, neo-barbs like the RMN weren’t going to be as capable as the Solarian League, but some of the ‘intelligence’ community were obviously forgetting that Manticore was a developed, relatively rich star-nation. Manticore was going to be a tougher nut to crack than these folks thought. No doubt Manticore had ships that might almost be considered ‘modern’, even by the standards of the SLN.

Far worse from his perspective were the reports of RMN ships that had incredible acceleration rates, were almost immune to missile fire, threw massive salvos and capable of missile ranges that were, quite frankly, absurd. Oh, he didn’t doubt that the RMN may have developed some superiority in one tactical area or another, they were somewhat educated after all. Across the board quantum superiority was ridiculous though. If such developments were even possible, the SLN would be using them.

Still, having to assign one of his battlecruisers and a pair of heavy cruisers to escort that damned Mythos split his main combat power up in ways he didn’t like. If the Manties had hit his force on arrival, they might have caused significant damage before they were destroyed. He wouldn’t have lost the Mythos, sadly, or either of his two Indefatigables, but his light forces might have taken a beating from a pair of Manty battlecruisers. Losing any ships to the Manties would make him look bad, and even in Frontier Fleet an officer had to be aware of his image if he wanted continued advancement.

The good news was that, having arrived in Nuncio space unchallenged, he could now alter his escort plan to something more tactically sound. Turning to his chief of staff he commanded “Execute Escort Plan Alpha”. That would have Destroyer Squadron 2307 fall back on the Mythos and restore his BC and CA elements to full strength. Now all he had to do was download the reports from Basilica. That would tell him if the ‘spontaneous’ rioting had started yet and, hopefully, what Manticoran forces he was facing. He considered breaking out one of his destroyers to rendezvous with the listening post, but that would slow the re-integration of his forces.

He’d been dithering over this decision for the last two days, but now in Nuncio space he needed to be decisive. Looking at the status display to see which of his two forward heavy cruisers was closer, he decided. SLNS Fujimi was the closer of the two cruisers and he almost decided to send SLNS Tanaka instead. Commodore Prescott commanded the cruiser element from aboard Fujimi and would undoubtedly use his ‘forward’ deployment and ‘first to advance into hostile space’ for all it was worth in the political battles to come. Well, he was welcome to try. The Admiral who slapped down the Manticorans and took a system right out from under them would have more than enough fame to slap down a little upstart like Prescott. He ordered Prescott ahead personally, that should shift some of the credit back where it belonged… to the Flag. Let him think about that!

Aboard Fujimi, Prescott was fuming. He knew what that clown Pontraine had in mind. Prescott’s advance was now ‘subject to orders from the Flag’ rather than on his own authority. Was a Rear Admiral actually so petty that he would try to steal every bit of glory from this mission? Of course he was! Political in-fighting in Frontier Fleet might not be the blood sport it was in Battle Fleet, but it was intense. Pontraine wanted every bit of glory he could grab so that he could climb the ladder to Vice Admiral. There was nothing to do about it now though, nothing but carry out the orders efficiently and try to hitch his flag, literally, to Pontraine’s. Be a good little subordinate and hope for some scraps in the after-action reports. Turning to the comm screen that displayed the Captain of Fujimi he said, “Bob take us to the listening post. Smartly please, the Flag will undoubtedly want us back in position as soon as possible.”

On board Enterprise Thomas watched as the destroyers and their CL commander fell away from Force Alpha. When the BC and the two CA’s started their advance, he figured, correctly, that an exchange of escorts was taking place. For a few minutes he thought that nobody would download the output from the listening station, then one of the forward Mikasa’s advanced… and rapidly. Apparently, someone had lit a fire under the backside of that cruiser’s commander. Thomas smiled a predatory smile. Based on the course that CA was taking, displeasure from the Flag wasn’t going to be a concern for much longer.

SLNS Fujimi crept the final distance to the listening post under low power. The area was part of the Oort cloud of cometary bodies that surround any star system and some idiot had placed the listening post in the middle of a cluster of proto-comets. They had probably figured that nobody would notice one more minor planetoid in the middle of the other trash, but who would be looking in the first place?

The current Mark 47, Mod 6 mine deployed by the RMN was more than just a simple mine. Unlike earlier mines, which would detonate as soon as a target came into range, the Mark 47 waited. As long as a target was closing, the mine would hold fire unless certain conditions were met, such as sidewalls coming up or a radical change in perspective. Such a change in perspective could mean a target was ‘rolling ship’ or turning a vulnerable aspect away from the mine. Multiple mines in a field could also communicate, albeit in a rather limited way. Each mine would forward an acquisition signal to others in its deployed minefield. They would also forward a ‘detonation’ signal if their own engagement requirements were met. These gave the Mark 47 the capability of engaging multiple targets in a minefield simultaneously.

In the case of SLNS Fujimi, seven Mark 47 mines could see her as she approached the listening post. Five of those were in target acquisition when something caused the sidewall generators aboard Fujimi to start to spin up. The most likely reason was that someone had recognized the minefield. There would never be a way to know, five Mark 47’s detonated as one and SLNS Fujimi simply… vanished. The Mark 47 mine carried lasing rods capable of generating forces that could punch through the sidewalls of a modern Havenite superdreadnaught, and through the armour underneath.

Fujimi didn’t have sidewalls, modern or not, when the X-ray lasers sleeted through her hull. Nor did she have armour of any appreciable value. Aboard Enterprise the tactical section estimated that no less than thirty laser rods had scored hits. Thirty hits would have gutted a superdreadnaught, the effect on a heavy cruiser was unimaginable. Forces she couldn’t withstand pummelled Fujimi and her hull broke in two pieces. Both pieces then expanded into glowing fireballs as her fusion generators lost containment. 400,000 tons of starship were reduced to glowing plasma in less than 2 seconds. The were no lifepods deployed.
« Last Edit: July 05, 2014, 09:46:18 PM by Silver Fox »

Offline Silver Fox

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #48 on: July 04, 2014, 03:04:30 AM »
34 pages, 17,484 words.

Offline deathjester

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Re: Let's be about it
« Reply #49 on: July 04, 2014, 03:30:22 AM »
Again, Brilliant.  Perhaps you should think about seeing a publisher?  Maybe see if anyone is doing collections of short stories?