The World Today

The World Today
Earth in 2013

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Wing Commander reboot, part 7


Improvised War

With both of the major players in the Kilrathi War pausing for a breath and attempting to rebuild their forces, the smaller players of the Frontier were still in action. Leading various worlds that fall outside of Confed’s border is the most powerful of the Frontier worlds, Landreich. The Free Republic of Landreich Navy accounts for more than 70% of all frontier ships. With a jumble of make-do ships and Confed cast-offs, the Landreich has fought the Kilrathi to a standstill. Despite their bravado, the Landreich would easily have been crushed if the Kilrathi launched a concerted effort against them. Instead, Landreich ships tackle what the Kilrathi would consider their own secondary ships.

In land combat, the Kilrathi soldiers view humanity as prey. As such, they tend to treat all soldiers the same way. The guerilla warriors of the Frontier fully exploit this, using patrol members as ‘wounded’ bait, to cause the Kilrathi to charge in recklessly on all fours. Afterwards, one of two things would happen; the Kilrathi would run into a minefield, or they would be gunned down by frontier’s men waiting for them. Either way, and with several other ambushed, the Kilrathi losses on the ground were always far higher (proportionally speaking) than Terran losses, and were only doubly worse against non-Confed worlds.

The Landreich, and other systems, have backdoor contacts within Confed and quickly began to snatch up the obsolete Confed fighters, to augment their own home-grown products. The most popular of these acquisitions were hundreds of Firecats. The Landreich took the agility of these light fighters and installed additional armor and more powerful shields out of scrapped Wildcats and even some Warhammers. To compensate for the additional mass, larger engines were installed. Over the course of time, the modified fighters were put into mass production, giving birth to the Talon light fighter. In a fair fight, it still could not go up against a Kilrathi heavy fighter, but the Landreich never pretended to fight fair.

For capital ships, the Landreich addressed the issue of a lack of carriers by taking several pairs of old Confed destroyers, and connecting them via a flight deck. This kludge of a light carrier became known as the Delphi-class light carriers. They made poor weapons of fleet engagements, but were perfect for the hit-and-run tactics of the Landreich. By Confed standards, the Delphis were obsolete before they entered production.

War at Home

The Home Front during the early part of the war was one filled with panic. During the first five years of the war, there was every bit the possibility that the Kilrathi would breakthrough the line and invade the Sol Sector. Any unidentified flying object was reported as a "scout ship" by the worried public. The situation was even worse in the parts of the Vega Sector that remained under Confed control. They really did see scout ships. Civilian Defense Corps were established on every inhabited world to man anti-aerospace weapons. Privately owned ships were armed by the owners, and Confed put in the expense of installing communication equipment on these impressed ships. Civilians served as pickets, shouting warnings when the Kilrathi appeared.

World governments in the Vega Sector quickly took control of key industries and put them into use for planetary defense. There was loud protests to this. The Governor of Enyo II, in 2638, replied to the loss in profits by asking "And when the Kilrathi kill us all, then who will buy your products?" They could not unilaterally seize private property, and Confed law demanded the owners be compensated for their loss of business. This, as well as the massive buying of war goods by Confed drove the Confederation’s deficit through the roof. In turn, higher taxes and planetary tariffs were imposed to compensate.

The general public in the Sol Sector accepted the high costs of living, but people living in systems opposite of the Kilrathi Frontier were wondering why they were paying higher taxes. In the distant Carina Sector, there was a degree of protest against the war. Many wanted a negotiated peace, not quite understanding Kilrathi culture or war aims. Protests accompanied all sectors, but these were more against tighter rationing and higher. Rationing was not universal, for each world had its own level of production. Worlds that were forced to import foodstuff in order to maintain their populations did suffer the most from rationing. Fuel was not a big deal, since all ships were powered by fusion reactors. Need fuel? Just open up magnetic scoops and skim the mesosphere of a gas giant. Consumer goods were not rationed, just in short supply. Every factor in the Vega Sector and Epsilon Sector, as well as most in the Sol Sector (and a lesser degree in the Enigma Sector) were geared over to war production.

Operations in Hubble’s Star

In March of 2641, the first Confed Marines entered the Hubble’s Star System. They entered from Xanadu, using a much narrower jump point. While most are 173 meters (this being the maximum diameter that can traverse the point), the jump point at the L-1 point for Hubble’s Star and Hubble I, was only half the size. A task force of smaller warships and transports jumped into Hubble’s Star under the very radiation of this F-type star. Their goal was not to liberate Hubble IV, for too many Kilrathi were on and around the planet. Instead, they secured Hubble I, and were followed by engineers and construction workers.

Surface installations were built around the poles of this airless, low gravity world. These were mostly barracks, for the massing of Marines to act to secure landing zones, as well as hundreds of thousands of soldiers of the Confederation Army that would be required to liberate the system. Six orbital fortresses were built around the equator of the planet, with an addition two smaller ones in higher, polar orbits. These fortresses were kept small, just mainly guns and reactors, in order to elude Kilrathi attention.

Installations were completed with six months, and soldiers began to slowly fill into the system. The jump point was too small for larger TCN ships to enter, which would be forced to come via the Vega or Hell’s Kitchen jump points. Both were mined by the Kilrathi, and the Vega jump point was soon discovered to have the Kilrathi’s system headquarters nearby, as well as several warships permanently stationed around it.

Hubble I was put to immediate use by smaller ships. Destroyers capable of carrying a small compliment of fighters operated in the outer system, attacking Kilrathi shipping flying between the Port Hadland and Rostov jump points. The Kilrathi thought the system so secure, that they had not bothered placing escorts for shipping. After losing three convoys, one carrying twenty thousand soldiers, the Kilrathi began to dispatch Ralathas to investigate. The Kilrathi destroyers managed to destroy the TCS Dragonfly.

Further attacks by small Confed ships hit and destroyed a fuel station in orbit of Hubble V. Again, the Kilrathi dispatched ships to search for the attackers. The question of why the Kilrathi did not investigate the jump point inside of Hubble I’s orbit has never been satisfactorily answered. It is entirely possible the Kilrathi were unaware of the jump point. It was seldom used, and its proximity to Hubble’s Star made it less than desirable. Few civilian charts would have mentioned it, and military charts would have been destroyed during the invasion. No matter the reason, Confed ships continued to use this jump point, as well as Hubble I to continue to harass the Kilrathi for months on end.

Raid on Tamayo

The only major action by the Kilrathi in 2640, took place against the Tamayo System in the Vega Sector. The Kilrathi lacked the forces to secure any of the planets. Instead, they made a raid of the system. Tamayo Station was bypassed, and struck at the surface of Tamayo II. Kilrathi bombers dropped fusion warheads (yielding 50 kT) on several of the industrial areas of the southern hemisphere. This raid killed twelve million Terrans, as well as eliminated the entire electronic’s industry on the planet within the range of the EMP.

The worst loss was that of Tamayo Labs and Douglas Aerospace’s Tamayo production plants. The former was one of the manufacturers of the guidance system for IR (Image Recognizing) missiles, and the latter was responsible for producing the new Rapiers (one of several plants scattered throughout the Confederation). The destruction did much to harm the system’s own defenses, as well as shatter civilian morale. For months after the raid, the fear of invasion caused a general rumble of panic on Tamayo II.

The Kilrathi attack specifically targeted war industries. Unlike Confed, the Kilrathi had a very centralized industrial base. The Imperial Pride controlled most war industries, which were located in the Kilrah System, and the Council of Eight controlled the rest, which was situated on their own Pride worlds. Despite the insistence from the Ki’ra Pride, the Emperor believed Confed operated along the same lines. Kilrathi Intel learned about a new heavy fighter coming on line, and targeted the nearest Douglas Aerospace assembly line, believing it to be the primary line. Sadly, the one of Tamayo was one of the company’s smallest assembly plants, and had minimal impact on the output of the F-44 Rapier.

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