Fall of Hubble’s Star
In January of 2637 A.L., the reason the Kilrathi had been so quiet the previous year became painfully obvious. A fleet of some four carriers and ten cruisers, accompanied by various smaller craft, jumped into the system from both Port Hadland and Cheng-Cu. The two prong attack caught Confed off guard. When the first fleet arrived from Cheng-Cu, TCN defenders moved quickly to intercept it, despite being outnumbered two-to-one in respect to carrier strength. The first Kilrathi attack was a feint, designed to lure the Confed ships away from Hubble IV as well as Hubble Station in the L-2 point between Hubble IV and Hubble’s Star.
When the second Kilrathi force jumped into the system, roughly the same size as the first, the Terran defenders soon found themselves trapped between two fleets. Tough Confed gave a tough fight, taking a Kilrathi carrier and cruiser with them, the Carrier Adrianople as well as battlecruiser Viceroy, four cruisers and seven destroyers were all destroyed with few survivors. Those who reached escape pods were fortunate in that the Kilrathi ignored them as they headed for Hubble IV. Their next victim was Hubble Station itself.
The battle for the station was short, for the Kilrathi had no intent on capturing it. Over a hundred fighters defended the station, but the Firecats were of little match against the Kilrathi’s Dralthi and Salthi. Only a few TCN fighters escaped destruction to land on Hubble IV. Hubble Station had spent most of its effort in preparing for a boarding action than redoubling its countermeasures. Instead of boarding pods, Kilrathi bombers struck the station, delivering several anti-ship missiles towards their target. Hubble Station was destroyed with more than ten thousand on board.
The Kilrathi invasion of Hubble IV, the primary population in the system, took place with the minimal of interruption. Three days were spent by Kilrathi fighters and bombers inside the atmosphere of the planet, destroying whatever fighter cover remained, as well as air defenses around the landing zone of Drakeston. As the first wave of forty thousand Kilrathi were landing, Hubble militia destroyed the Drakeston Spaceport and the civilian population began to flee the city. The planet’s population in the census of 2630, was around two hundred million, with a further three million scattered around the rest of Hubble’s Star. The planet was home to a great deal of industry, most of it civilian and pressed into war service.
The Kilrathi took Drakeston, only to find the city abandoned. Kilrathi engineers were sent in with the next wave of invasion, along with machines for clearing the wreckage of the spaceport. While the Kilrathi were still thin on the ground, Confed Army units on the planet struck at the city, effectively laying siege to the very city they had abandoned. When additional Kilrathi ships attempted to land, the Army would throw all of its artillery into destroying transports, preferably while still in the air, but would settle for them on the ground as well.
The Kilrathi attempted a second landing some fifty kilometers north of Drakeston, in an attempt to crushed the Confederation Army between its two forces. This landing fared worse than the first, with twenty-seven percent of the transports destroyed by ground batteries as well as atmospheric aircraft. Privately owned space- and aircraft were pressed into service along side militia craft. Anything that could fly was equipped with FF missiles and pulse cannons. The second invasion flew into a school of pirana. However, this did not stop tens of thousands of more Kilrathi from stepping foot on Hubble IV.
By the third week of the invasion, enough pressure was taken off Drakeston for the Kilrathi to repair the spaceport and begin expanding it, all the while hundreds of Kilrathi transports were setting down on the planet on a weekly basis. The ad hoc air cover of the Terrans was slowly dwindled down as Kilrathi fighters spent most of their time in the atmosphere, and destroyers began pounding locations from orbit. The space between both initial Kilrathi landing zones was laid waste by several annihilation warheads, creating a link between the two Kilrathi forces. By the end of the fifth week, over three hundred thousand Kilrathi were on the planet.
Kilrathi reinforcements did not enter the system unopposed. TCN sent raids into the system repeatedly, targeting transports, freighters and any other logistical craft. This tactic forced the Kilrathi to divert its in-system forces to escort duty. It also diverted assets from across the Sector. Taking one of the systems in the Line was vital to Kilrathi war aims. When the Kilrathi could have launched another sizable attack on the line, they were instead forced to funnel more resources to take Hubble’s Star. This allowed only one large raid to take place in the Vega Sector.
By week ten, the Battle for Hubble’s Star was in full swing with over a million soldiers fighting for control of the planet. The Kilrathi, finally with air and space superiority, began a slow but relentless march to victory. The battle was officially won by the Kilrathi after five months of fighting, when the remaining Confed forces broke up and scattered into the wilderness. What would follow would be years of guerilla warfare and resistance against Kilrathi occupation. Hubble IV would continue to be a drain on their Vega Sector operations for years to come.
Securing the rest of the system was a simple enough task. What locations they did not want, or would not serve a strategic purpose, the Kilrathi simply destroyed. More than 2.5 million Terrans off of Hubble IV were killed during the conquest of the system.
After jumping quickly into Proxima from Munro, a Kilrathi task force centered around a light carrier (the only ship that would eventually not see action in Hubble’s Star) as well as four cruisers headed straight fro Proxima IV. It was the less populated region of the system, but steered well clear of Proxima Station and its compliment of several hundred fighters and bombers, as well as ships of TCN. Proxima IV and the asteroids that orbited it, was home to industry in the system as well as ten million Terrans. The Kilrathi had no intend on capturing the planet, and instead struck at factories built on the asteroids, including the largest fighter plant of McCall Industries in Vega Sector. The raid was clumsy, for the Kilrathi were not use to wars that were entering their fourth year, nor use to strategic warfare. However, by the time Confed sent interceptors to Proxima IV, the Kilrathi had already left the system.
The Mandarins and Catholics
Kilrathi occupation of planets such as McAuliffe VI, had taught the local humans that there was no beating the Kilrathi. They could not be killed without massive retribution. They could not be coerced. They could not even be bribed. In the ruined city of Forester, a man by the name of Alfred Mandar decided the Kilrathi could not be beaten. Publicly, he taught that the people should submit to Kilrathi rule, and that all the Confederation should surrender. This made him a traitor in the eyes of Confed. Privately, he taught that humanity should put itself in the good graces of the Kilrathi, be spread across their empire, then– when the Kilrathi were complacent, to rise up and overthrow them. He wanted to defeat the Kilrathi from within.
The Society of Mandar, or just plain Mandarin Society, spread across the occupied worlds. Because it openly taught submission, the Kilrathi authorities allowed their missionaries to move from world to world. Their teachers were not the only doomsayers, though the only ones who desired a surrendered. The forty-nine century old Catholic Church had its own fringe elements that believed the Kilrathi were punishment from God for the hubris of man. The majority of the Church held the official line that man should stand up and vanquish the godless beasts. As soon as the Church heard of Kilrathi defections, they immediately petitioned Confed for access to the isolated Kilrathi, so that they may spread the word of the gospel to these aliens.
In 2637, the first of the Vanguard Class Carriers, the TCS Vanguard and TCS Ranger were commissioned at the Shipyards of Mercury. These two carriers, as well as several new Concordia Class carriers could barely replace the loses in the Vega Sector. Concordia production was ceased that year, and their shipyards retooled to produce more Vanguards. Already, various design agencies were developing a newer, larger strike carrier to replace the Vanguards.
As well as the new carrier class, two of the four new fighters rolled off the assembly line in 2637. The A-14 Raptors, slatted replace the slow Warhammers. These new attackers would have the same bomber capability as the Warhammers, but would carrier the missiles and guns of a heavy fighter, as well as the agility. Second to come off the line are the venerable F-105 Scimitars (Confed’s fighter designation is rather arbitrary and comes from the manufacturer instead of TCN) which would replace the Wildcats as both bomber escorts and interceptors. Both of these new fighter classes were designed with the Kilrathi in mind, and incorporated aspects of Kilrathi fighter weakness, learned from refugees, into their overall design.
In the same year, new battleships were on the drawing boards. These are not battleships in the traditional sense, but a throwback to the arsenal ships of millennia past. These new BBGs as they are officially designated are little more than missile barges, carrying thousands of FF missiles and anti-ship missiles. The engineers promised that each ship could fire a salvo of over five hundred FFs in under a minute. Critics of the Arsenal Ship program argue that for the price of one of these ships, several hundred smaller fighters and bombers could have been built.