The World Today

The World Today
Earth in 2013

Thursday, September 30, 2010


Stardust: Mylo is updated to chapter 9, while Stardust: Apocalypse now has chapter 12 online.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Giant Panda

Status: Extinct

With an isolated communist China, the Chinese were forced into a crash industrialization in order to support themselves. This development of the country devastated the environment before and environmental awareness swept the world in the 1970s, China included. It was only then that China launched an effort to restore the bamboo forests and save the Panda. Unfortunately, so much land was destroyed that the remaining Pandas were taken into captivity. The last wild Panda spotting was in 1974. Foreign organizations, such as the World Wildlife Fund (which uses the Giant Panda as its symbol) offered to aid in saving the Panda, but the Chinese government refused any aid. In zoos and breeding centers across the country, attempts were made to breed the Panda, but with such an abysmal infant mortality rate, the program seemed doomed from the start. There were never enough Pandas born and survived to maintain a viable population. The last Panda died in the Chengdu Breeding Center in 2004.

Wing Commander reboot, part 14


Model 2647-G

At the start of 2647, Confed began to refit its warships with the Md 2647 graser. This newer graser was designed to be 1.5 times as powerful as current weapons while using on 90% of the power. Thus more beam weapons can be installed on existing warships and newer designs. Ships in the Vega Sector were rotated off the line early in the year for the retrofit. Banbridge ensured that the ships that would be involved in the upcoming McAuliffe Operations were the first to receive the new weapons. As well as being more powerful, the new grasers also focused their beam tighter and altered their frequency while firing. This was intended to pierce the shields of Kilrathi ships.

Dock workers in Proxima, Vega, Sirius and other systems worked around the clock for more than a month, installing the new weapons on every ship in the Vega Sector. The biggest challenge was keeping the bases in Munro protected while other ships were retrofitted. Several batteries of the Md 2647s were delivered to the new bases on the moons of Munro IV, as well as Fort Necessity, in high polar orbit of the planet. Delivering the weapons required the escort of the Tiger’s Claw and three destroyers.

Rostov Operations

In March of 2647, the TCS Cobra’s Fang played a game of hide-and-seek with a Snakier task force in the Rostov System. The Kilrathi had not the ability to retake the system, but an enterprising Kilrathi Admiral, one Gilkarg nar Kilrah, the oldest surviving son of the Kilrathi Emperor (his older brother being killed earlier in the war). To prove himself worthy of one day claiming the Kilrathi Throne, Gilkarg lead his force into the Rostov System to raid the Terrans. He had not enough ships to destroy Confed presence. Instead, he used his carrier, escorted by a cruiser and four destroyers, in a commerce raiding role.

In one raid, the Kilrathi managed to capture a Terran corvette partially intact. Its self-destruct system, designed to keep the nanotechnology in the life-support out of Kilrathi hands malfunctioned. Instead of destroying the ship, it merely gutted it, leaving the hull largely in one piece. Gilkarg detached his Fralthi to tractor the Venture-class corvette back to Kilrathi space. Gilkarg continued his raids until the Cobra’s Fang was detached to hunt him down.

The Kilrathi Prince was an able commander. He eluded the Cobra’s Fang for two weeks, drawing it further from assistance an into the depths of the outer system. From this position, the only jump point lead to Port Hadland, still in Kilrathi control. He succeeded in luring the larger Strike Carrier far enough away from help. Once the Terran ship passed the point where the distress signal would take four hours to reach Confed, Gilkarg sprang his trap.

Gilkarg sent ahead heavy fighters to lay dormant in space until his own task force passed. The fighters were clumped together into a rough shape, making passive sensors believe it was just an asteroid. To be in formation would be a dead giveaway, and to have sixteen individual asteroids in one place would also be suspicious. Then, when the Terrans entered firing range, they would come to life and pounce. The two wings of Jalthi (sixteen in total) launched their own attack run on the Cobra’s Fang. The heavy fighters managed to smash through the Hornets and launch one anti-ship missile each.

Though most were shot down or detonated against the shields, as was the case in all battles, three did manage to elude destruction. Cobra’s Fang operated without escort, and had no aid when one of the anti-ship missiles reduced it to half-speed. Worse yet, the second missile destroyed the carrier’s jump drive, so it could not pursue the Kilrathi even if its captain had been inclined to do so. The third missile struck amidship, tearing a gouge into the carrier. With the carrier wounded, Gilkarg turned back to launch all his fighters and even sent in the three destroyers. Despite a valiant effort, the Cobra’s Fang could not fight off the attack. The Kilrathi left the ship in ruins. Cobra’s Fang was not destroyed, but its power was knocked out and the ship left adrift when Gilkarg jumped out of the system. Cobra’s Fang was rescued, but not before more than half its crew died.

Deino Diversion

In June, a small fleet under the command of de Chump jumped into the Deino System. His goal was to clear out the system and pave the way for an invasion. Only two carriers formed de Chump’s fleet, the rest either under the command of van Oranje or garrisoning Munro. Eagle’s Talon and Raj were accompanied by a battleship, three cruisers and six destroyers. Twenty corvettes flew out ahead as picket ships, reporting the location of any Kilrathi they came across.

Deino was sitting between Confed and Kilrathi occupied territories. Being such a forward base, the Kilrathi should have fortified it. Instead, Deino had been cut-off since the fall of Rostov. Confed decided to let the Kilrathi wither there, destroying any supply ships attempting to reach the base. The attack could not draw off forces, but it was intended to draw the Kilrathi into the belief that it was the main focus of this year’s offense.

During the meanwhile, the Kilrathi forces actually were discovered to have abandoned the system. Plenty of traps were left behind, but no active opposition. Sensing a large force would be cut off, the Council of Eight had decided to retreat from Deino. At first, this was seen as a blessing, and then as a curse. If Kilrathi forces were not tied up here, then they were deployed elsewhere. The stations, fortresses and worlds of Deino were reoccupied by Confed with minimal loss.

McAuliffe Offensive

With his fleet upgraded, van Oranje jumped into the McAuliffe system from a staging area in Enyo. His fleet had five carriers, three battleships, the Ragnarok, as well as ten cruisers and an assortment of lesser ships. The Kilrathi kept their forces in reserve around McAuliffe VI, a world taken at the start of the war. Alexandria Station had been rebuilt, with a great deal of Kilrathi architecture designed into it. Where once was a graceful station, now orbited a fanged and clawed monstrosity. Kilrathi ships were few in the system; only two carriers and seven cruisers among the larger ships. With at least one arsenal ship still on the prowl, the Kilrathi decided it prompt not to place all their ships into one giant target zone. Kilrathi breaking up their fleets into smaller units would soon force Confed to do the same to compensate.

Kilrathi heavy fighters beat off the first two bomber attacks on the Kilrathi ships and Alexandria. Kilrathi counterattacks succeeded in damaging the Prince of Orange, van Oranje’s flagship. However, most ships were spared since the Kilrathi focused their attacks on Ragnarok. The arsenal ship fared better than her sistership did at Alcor. The Ragnarok only managed a single volley of anti-ship missiles, leaving the Kilrathi fighters to their Terran counterparts, before being ordered to retreat from the combat zone (though not the system). Most of the fifty missiles were destroyed, but seven hit fortifications in orbit of McAuliffe VI, destroying two gun platforms as well as one of Alexandria’s shield generators.

Van Oranje fought the Kilrathi around McAuliffe VI for over a week, having two of his own carriers forced out of the system for repairs, the Bengal as well as the Saratoga. Both Terran and Kilrathi destroyers dueled at close range, supported by fellow destroyers. Most of Confed’s fighters focused on the Kilrathi carriers, while the battleships opened up on Alexandria. The Kilrathi managed to deploy one hundred twenty-eight fighters from the station, enough to overwhelm the cruisers Shiva and Draken, destroying both. Instead of returning to the station, the Kilrathi fighters headed down towards the planet.

After ten days of battle, the Kilrathi admiral decided the battle was unwinnable and withdrew from the system towards Venice. The Venice System had a sizable force, and it was entirely possible, or at least believed so at the time, that the Kilrathi would return in force. Van Oranje sent corvettes, frigates and destroyers to mine the jump point to Venice, while the larger ships spent the next week clearing out orbital space around McAuliffe VI. The invasion and liberation of the planet was a hard and bloody affair, not complete until early 2649.

Some of the sights seen on the planet’s surface created life-long hatred of the Kilrathi by Terran ground-pounders. Many Terrans had been rounded up into camps, mostly for forced labor. Tens of thousands were exported to slave markets across the empire. A few of the camps were nothing more than ranches, where humans were used to feed the Kilrathi warriors stationed on the planet. Kilrathi would put to flight the captives, and hunt them the same way they would hunt any prey. Kilrathi scientists did extensive research into human biology, seeking out weakspots, and trying to find chemical agents that would kill Terrans but not Kilrathi. In space, TCN personnel had a grudging respect for their enemy. On the ground, soldiers did not take long to learn how to hate the Kilrathi, no matter their prowess in battle.

Since the first of the planet-hopping invasions, Terran soldiers and marines carried melee weapons as well as their firearms. Hand-to-hand combat in cities such as Doveshire were bloody, no-quarters affairs. Kilrathi civilians caught out in the open were killed far quickly than Terrans caught by Kilrathi. The fighting turned so savage, that some soldiers took to cutting out the claws of Kilrathi they killed as souvenirs. The Kilrathi kept their own kill counts, but took the identification tags of their victims. Neither side was above taking the hide of its enemy, Kilrathi rugs and belts made from Terran leather. When they lost a city, the Kilrathi would undergo scorched earth tactics, leaving nothing standing and nobody alive as they retreated.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

More on Mylo

I'm up to Chapter 6 for Stardust: Mylo. The translation and editing to on-line is coming along smoothly.

Wing Commander reboot, part 13


Kilrathi Advances

By 2641, the Kilrathi had in place for five years their own heavy fighter project. First introduced in the same year, the Jalthi Heavy Fighter was plagued with developmental flaws and setbacks. One such being the tendency to explode when hit in the space drive. The few Jalthi encountered before 2646, held their own against Scimitars and Rapiers. By January of the year, the engineering was as perfect as it was going to get, and the Kilrah Pride began to put them into production. When the Kilrah Pride did so, the Council of Eight responded with their own newer medium fighter, the Krant. It could do well against the Scimitar, but was still outclassed by Rapiers on one-to-one basis, as well as by Jalthis. However, the other Prides could produce far more Krants far faster, and thus maintained their balance.

A newer, larger type of cruiser came on line, the Fralthra-class. The Kilrathi are slow to change their weapons and introduce new classes of ships far less often as Confed. Thus, they have less practice in introducing new products, and they tend to be delayed by more technical difficulties. The new cruiser class was far larger than the Fralthis and had armor and armament powerful enough to hold their own against a Confed Prince of Orange class battleship. The first two Fralthras saw action in 2646, in the Munro System.

Push to Munro III

Despite previous setbacks, Confed moved once again to secure Munro III and climb that much closer to being within striking range of the Kilrathi homeworld. Little was known about Kilrah, and that was obtained from refugees and a few defectors. None had ever visited the homeworld, and could only bring with them encyclopedic knowledge. There was no tactical or strategic data on the planet or system, save that the Kilrah Pride had an impressive fleet. Part of it was on permanent station in Munro.

With bases around Munro VI, as well as the Proxima jump point, secured, Confed felt confident in extending itself. With a fleet headed by six carriers, including Hornet’s Nest, Wolfhound, Tiger’s Class, Raj, Harrier and Finback, three battleships, the Ragnarok, as well as an assortment of lesser ships, many of these brought in from Rostov to form this new fleet, Confed launched its second attempted invasion of Munro III. The Kilrathi had minimal defenses in orbit of the planet, but have greatly increased the defenses around Munro I and Munro II since the last Confed attack. The moment Confed was detected approaching, word was sent further in-system for Kilrathi warships to come to its aid.

The Kilrathi responded with six of its own carriers, as well as two new cruisers, twelve Fralthis and a host of destroyers, frigates and corvettes. The Kilrathi intended to wait until the Terrans have landed upon Munro III before destroying their fleet and trapping them. At this stage of the war, if either side faced total annihilation in the Munro System, it could have spelt doom for them.

The Second Battle for Munro III ended barely before it even began. Confed used its arsenal ship to great use, but the Kilrathi had already developed a plan to counteract the swarm of missiles. The use of Jalthis hit the Terran pilots harder than earlier attacks, but Confed managed to hold off most of the Kilrathi bombers. Some broke through defenses and crippled the Harrier, which later succumbed to internal explosions. Raptors broke through both Krants and Jalthis to return the favor, destroying a Snakier.

The battle was fought to a draw in space, but Confed Marines made impressive inroads on the ground. Within a week, the time the battle beyond the planet took place, Marines had secured several hundred square kilometers of coastline, as well as a mostly intact spaceport. The latter was of great value. Seeing their position untenable, Confed began to evacuate the planet. Marines left, bitter at their abandoning a successful invasion. Along with them, many Terrans living in the occupation zone also fled, their first chance in over a decade to leave voluntarily. Though they were not Confederation citizens, being beyond the pre-war frontier, they would not be turned back for the Kilrathi to slaughter.

The fleet left orbit of Munro III in May, and rendezvoused with several Construction Brigades at the moons of Munro IV. Munro IV would be turned into a new forward base, where Confed can keep an eye on both the inner planets, and be within easy striking range of Munro III and all Kilrathi activities on the planet. The orbit of Munro III quickly became a no-man’s land, where neither side could enter without risk of being attacked.

Other Operations in Munro

In June of 2464, one such encounter took place near a four kilometer rock known as 2613AL41001-Munro. A dual between one of the new Fralthras and the TCS Charles Vreeland, a new Endurance-class battleship took place. The two ships spent the better part of a day maneuvering around the rock, attempting to gain optimal firing with minimal risk. During openings in the parrying, the two warships traded shots with grasers, weakening each others shields, only to retreat behind the rock to recharge.

Both ships were capable of launching fighters, and the Charles Vreeland carried a squadron of Hornets, mostly for defense against the squadron of Dralthi the Kilrathi cruiser carried. Neither fighter was suited to take on heavily armored opponents, and did little but shoot each other down. For the two fighters Confed lost, the Kilrathi lost six before recalling the survivors in case they were actually needed. Hornets proved their worth again in intercepting a spread of anti-ship missiles.

The battle ended when the Kilrathi captain planted mines upon the asteroid. When the Charles Vreeland passed above, the mine exploded, showering it with pieces of nickle-iron. This overloaded the battleship’s shields, leaving it exposed. In desperation, Captain Hue Malloy armed his light fighters with anti-ship missiles and had them make a run on the Kilrathi ship. Though not designed to haul that much extra mass, the Hornets did their job and managed to score two hits on the Fralthra. Its shields were weakened to the point where a graser shot from the Terrans punched through both shields and armor. Though damaged, the Kilrathi were not destroyed and withdrew from the battle. But not before firing their own grazers, crippling the Charles Vreeland, which required several destroyers to tractor it back to Munro VI, where engines were repaired, and then it returned to Proxima and on to Sol, where it spent a year in dock under going repairs.

Battle of Alcor

While operations in the Munro System were taking up resources from both combatants, Confed spared enough resources to attack the Alcor System. This system sat at a strategic crossroads, and from here Confed could strike well behind Kilrathi lines. The Kilrathi knew this, but the Emperor saw more importance in holding Munro, and his throne. Only a pair of carriers and pair of cruisers, as well as six destroyers and a dozen corvettes controlled the space in the Alcor System. Confed entered the system with twice the carrier and cruiser force, as well as the Doomsday and thirteen destroyers. The arsenal ship cleared any and all mines around the jump point.

The Kilrathi charged straight into battle, despite the presence of an arsenal ship. Or perhaps in spite of it. Hundreds of drones were deployed to act as decoys for the missile swarm, which it did successfully. Kilrathi fighters and bombers focused their full force on the arsenal ship. Though most were destroyed, a few bombers reached the Doomsday to cause some damage. These bombers were shot down after making their missile runs. Behind them, three Kilrathi corvettes charged the ship, again all three were destroyed. However, one of the corvettes was still reasonably intact after its destruction, that its collision with the Doomsday caused great damage to the arsenal ship, including knocking out its launchers.

Kilrathi fighters, lightly armed, charged in for the kill. In a suicidal frenzy, that was quite unlike the typically individualistic Kilrathi, two of these fighters dove into the Doomsday’s damaged portions, gutting the arsenal ship. Just why they made suicide runs is unknown, though probably due to the extent of damage to their own fighters and knowing the likelihood of escaping was nil. Kilrathi destroyers braved fire from Confed cruisers for the chance to kill such a highly valued target. A lone Ralatha did just that. Though it did not live to celebrate its victory, anti-ship missiles from the destroyer finished off the Doomsday, breaching the containment fields within the ship’s own ASM stockpiles.

The Doomsday was the only ship van Oranje lost in attack on the Alcor System, though it was a valuable one. The Carrier Cobra’s Fang suffered damage at the hands of a corvette, before its own Raptors destroyed it. After the last ship was eliminated, the invasion force jumped in from Vega and launched their invasion of Alcor V, headquarters of Kilrathi operation in the system. The planet was desolate, and the battle for it long and hard. It was not until almost a year after the invasion did Confed complete the conquest of the planet, and then move on to eliminate outlying positions in the system.

With the Kilrathi fleet in the system annihilated, the Kilrathi began to feel the same weariness as Confed. Half their pre-war strength had already been destroyed in the Vega Sector, as well as several new ships. Confed managed to keep ahead in production, despite its own economic devastation across the Vega Sector. The centralized nature of the Kilrathi Imperial Government was partly responsible. Neither the Emperor nor the kings of the Eight were willing to relinquish their monopoly on war productions. However, this centralization made for easy targeting and reduction.

The Cook Strait

The Cook Strait is the name given to the body of water that sits between Kamchatka and the Canadian province of “Alaska”. It was first charted by Europeans in 1777 by the British explorer James Cook. The Strait is a desolate and foreboding place, yet is home to a variety of marine animals, including the Cook Sea Cow. In the 21st Century, only fishing boats from Kamchatka, Canada, the United States and Japan frequent the Cook Straight, and the Cook Sea.

Cook Sea Cow

Status: Critically Endangered

Only a few hundred of these arctic manatees can still be found in the Cook Sea, mostly in the west of the sea, around the Commander Islands (as named by James Cook). They are related to manatees of the Carribean, but are much larger, between 8 and 10 tonnes. These gentle marine grazers have always been hunted by the Aleuts and other tribes around the Cook Sea. Only their relatively recent discovery, 1778, by Europeans preserved the species. Their bodies contain much oil that would have made them targets of whalers. Both Kamchatka and Canada have banned all hunting of the sea cows (Kamchatka went further to declare the Commander Islands a nature preserve), but their populations are still threatened by orcas, which with diminishing salmon populations, are forced to turn to other food sources. The Seattle Aquarium, and other marine institutions along the American Pacific Coast, have launched a breeding program starting in the 1980s. Seattle has five of these dugongs in captivity, the most in any one institution.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Project Swift

Project Swift, launched during the 1980s, was a joint effort between the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom to explore the sun and its vicinities. Because of mass limitations on spacecraft and the deep gravity well they would plunge into, the Swift missions are known as being some of the most roundabout probes ever launched, making several pass-bys of Earth and Venus before arriving inside of Mercury’s orbit. The missions added much information about how Earth’s nearest star works, along with the discovery of several Vulcanoids. The project was named after Edgar Swift, who was actually a Confederate astronomer who died in 1938, who claimed to have discovered a belt of asteroids inside of Mercury, the asteroid he discovered was named Vulcan.

Swift 1 (1981): The first of the Swift missions, reached an orbit of 0.2 Astronomical Units in 1989. Its mission was to investigate the solar neutrino problem. The probe operated until 1995, when it abruptly went off-line. It is believed Swift 1 was struck by a micrometeor.

Swift 2 (1990): Swift 2 actually focused on Mercury, and arrived at the planet in 1998. The probe entered polar orbit and began extensive mapping of the planet. A small lander was dropped into a deep crater at the north pole, in attempt to find water hidden in shadow.

Swift 3 (2005): Arrived in the vicinity of the claimed asteroid belt in 2015. Swift 3 confirmed the existence of Vulcan, a 201 kilometer wide asteroid that orbits only twenty million kilometers from the sun. Vulcan is tidally locked, as it turned out most vulcanoids would be. Swift 3 was knocked out in late 2016 by a coronal mass ejection, which came nowhere close to Earth.

Swift 4 (2020): Swift 4 was the largest and last mission to be launched. Along with solar observation instruments, it carried three impactor-landers. Due to fuel constraints, it was quite impossible at the time for sample return mission from the vulcanoids. One of the impactors landed on Vulcan and examined the regolith. A second landed on a fifty kilometer wide asteroid. The third was launched into the sun’s corona, taking samples and relaying data back to Earth until it finally melted and evaporated.

Bowhead Whale

Status: Extinct

The Bowhead Whale, along with several other species of baleen whales, underwent extreme persecution during the 18th and 19th Century as whalers wiped out entire pods. The Bowhead Whale’s range within the Arctic made it a prime target for British, Dutch, American and Swedish whalers. The populations took such a crash during the mechanization of whaling during the late 19th Century that soon whalers were forced to seek out easier targets, such as the Right Whale, which was hunted to extinction by the 20th Century. The Bowhead population was so depleted that by the time commercial whaling was banned in the 1960s, an estimate one hundred specimens existed. Getting accurate data on the Bowhead was difficult due to their scarcity. The best know sample was that of a dead Bowhead that washed ashore in northern Norway. A harpoon head was extracted from the corpse that dated back to the 1840s, making the animal well over one hundred years old. As of today, the Bowhead holds the record as the longest lived mammal. A comprehensive study launched in 1983, by the University of Bergen spotted one Bowhead off the eastern coast of Greenland. When the team returned to following year in order to track down this or others to be tagged, they spotted none. The last known spotting of a Bowhead was that off a fishing troller in the Norwegian Sea in 1991. Since then, no Bowheads have been spotted and International Wildlife Fund listed them as presumably extinct in 2000.

Another Mylo update

Chapter 4 of Stardust: Mylo is on-line and ready to be read. I've switched from Internet Explorer to Safari recently, and the whole format for the chapters has changed.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Stardust Mylo update

Chapter 3 is now online... and thus, so is chapter 2. There will be a difference in format, since I stopped using Internet Explorer (too many crashes) and switched over to using Safari.

Wing Commander reboot, part 12


Cobra’s Fang Operations

The year 2645, spelled a lull in Confed operations in the Vega Sector. The losses suffered in Munro, as well as the resources still going into the system, have brought offensive operations by large fleets to a halt. Banbridge, now in overall command of the Vega Sector, has plans for 2646, but it will take some months to assemble a large enough invasion force. To keep the Kilrathi from taking advantage of this pause, Confed has set loose the Bengal-class strike carriers to do what they were designed to do. Though the Kilrathi can get fuel from any gas giant, and food on any habitable world, they still had to have munitions and spare parts. Only worlds under prolonged occupation would have any Kilrathi industry built upon it. With this in mind, the Cobra’s Fang jumped into the Kurasawa System in April of 2645.

In Kurasawa, the Cobra’s Fang and its escorting cruiser, the Majestic as well as three destroyers, took a round about route through the system. They encountered a munitions convoy likely headed for Port Hadland. None of the seven freighters or Kilrathi escorting destroyer survived the encounter. Marines from the carrier attempted to board one of the freighters, only to have it explode as the shuttle approached. The Marine shuttle was tractored back to Cobra’s Fang. The strike force proceeded to jump into what Confed had charted as the Hyperion System, near the border of the Kilrah Sector. Despite its location, the system had minimal Kilrathi military presence.

In Hyperion, the strike force encountered a Fralthi escorting Kilrathi soldiers, believed to be destined for the Alcor System. In order to weaken the system for eventual invasion, Captain Manuel de Soto ordered Raptors to attack the convoy. The attack alerted the Kilrathi to the Cobra’s Fang’s existence in the system. Though the convoy was destroyed, with over fifty thousand Kilrathi soldiers dead in space and a cruiser cripple, alerts were sent out to relays near all jump points. The Cobra’s Fang strike force retreated to Kurasawa. There, it was forced to fight a Kilrathi task force centered around a Snakier. The Kilrathi carrier was knocked out of action, but at the cost of 20% of the Cobra’s Fang’s pilots. The destroyer Warlock was destroyed in the Kilrathi counterattack, and the Majestic suffered damage, but de Soto managed to guide his strike force back to Rostov by June.

Bengal Operations

TCS Bengal had a harder time in its raid that its sister ship. The Bengal, with four destroyers acting as escorts, left the Vega Sector and entered Epsilon during the month of May. From Hell’s Kitchen, it jumped to Segallion, slipped past Kilrathi patrols and jumped into the Lennox System. The system might have once been home to a human frontier colony, but it was long since removed. Remains of the habitat on Lennox V indicated that it was destroyed from orbit, most likely by the Kilrathi. Humans might be gone, but the system was still home to a Kilrathi repair base. Though action had been limited in the Epsilon Sector, Confed decided a strike here could mislead the Kilrathi into believing major operations could strike into the Sector.

Fighters from the Bengal caught a Ralatha as well as four corvettes in dock while attacking the repair station. The ships and station were destroyed. The Bengal jumped into the Torgo System as soon as the repair base was destroyed. There, the strike force encountered Kilrathi resistance. The Bengal and its fighters had to fight there way across the system, enduring two weeks of hit-and-run attacks by the Kilrathi. Attrition reduced the strike force’s fighting strength by more than 50% before it reached the Orsini jump point.

Mopping Up

During the past few years, Confed bypassed and cut-off several systems from the Kilrathi. During 2645, forces were sent in to retake these lost worlds. The Kilrathi, unable to resupply some of them for more than two years, were at a reduced fighting capacity. Tali was liberated in April, while Montrose was freed in May. The fight to retake the Nanking System took between May and August. The Kilrathi had no ships larger than corvette in any of the bypassed systems. The biggest heartache of the cleaning action was when Confed forces entered the Carlin System. Carlin II, whose entire population was massacred early in the war, was not invaded. Instead, the Kilrathi colonies on the planet were bombed from orbit. Enough dust was blown into the atmosphere by the bombardment to put the planet into a nuclear winter, and making it useless for the duration of the war.

Project Pioneer

Project Pioneer was an interplanetary probe series created by the United States and their NASA program. The project consisted of fly-by missions to the planets, paving a path for future orbiters and landers. The program began in 1961, after Kennedy announced that America would beat Sweden, Germany and the Dutch to the moon. Afterwards, it served to be the first American probe to all the planets.

Pioneer 1: (1961) Blew up in flight
Pioneer 2: (1961) Fly-by of the moon
Pioneer 3: (1962) Failed to separate from booster
Pioneer 4: (1963) Succesfully launched to Mars; electronic failure in flight.
Pioneer 5: (1963) First American fly-by of Mars
Pioneer 6: (1965) Flew past Venus; failed before it could reach Mercury.
Pioneer 7: (1966) Flew past Venus, then Mercury
Pioneer 8: (1968) Blew up on launch pad
Pioneer 9: (1971) Passed through Asteroid Belt; first fly-by of Jupiter.
Pioneer 10: (1973) Second fly-by of Jupiter
Pioneer 11: (1977) First of the Grand Tour fly-by missions; sling shot past Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
Pioneer 12: (1977) Second Grand Tour mission.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

An Alternate History of Britain

An Alternate History of Britain is a three volume saga written by Simon Schama, and released in the late 1990s. The three books were wrapped in controversy in parts of the world, yet hailed by anti-imperialist as well. It was a hugely success in Britain and the British Commonwealth. The alternate history is based on the premise of what if the United Kingdom, rather than the United Provinces, ruled the world’s oceans. The story begins with the earliest evidence of settlements in the British Isles and works its way to the modern days. The main point of divergence in this alternate history is not British, but rather Dutch; in the form of the Provinces being divided by religion. This lead to an overall weaker Dutch navy which lead to an inevitable rise of British naval forces. The very idea of the United Provinces being divided into north and south along Catholic and Protestant lines is laughable indeed, and brought much scorn from critics in the Dutch Commonwealth. Worst criticism came from the Slavic citizens of Sweden, who balked at the idea of living in a Communist state ruled by a Georgian despot during World War II. The Swedes were not fans of the books for they reduced their mighty kingdom into a Nordic do-nothing neutrality. Jewish communities were disturbed by the book, for it made them targets of the Nazi butchers instead of Balkan Slavs. The biggest critics of the book were the Germans themselves. So bad was it, that the book is actually banned in the German Empire. They were offended not only by the deposition of the Kaiser, but the fact that Schama turned the Germans into a weak and gutless people by the start of the 21st Century.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wing Commander reboot, part 11


The Tenth Year

The Kilrathi War dragged on into its tenth year with Confed on the offensive. Two fleet actions were planned for the year, with the 1st Fleet under the command of Robert Custer, and the 2nd under the command of van Oranje. The First, newly formed around the nucleus of the Hubble’s Star expedition, would be launching its assault into the Munro System. The Second, actually formed before the First, would strike first with a smaller attack on the strategically vital Rostov System. With the later in its hands, Confed can easily take back Deino and McAuliffe.

Despite setback and victory, the Terran public was beginning to grow weary of the war. The fact that Confed would not even consider negotiating cost the leading party in the Congress of the Confederation elections for 2645. Conspiracy theories stating that the Military Industrial Complex was running both the war and Confed began to circulate across the Sol Sector, as well as other sectors distant from the war. In the Vega Sector, and the minimal Confed presence in the Epsilon Sector, there was strong support for the war. Even in Enigma, where only a few minor raids have occurred, the public was in favor of the military.

Those sectors as yet untouched by war lived under the belief that the Kilrathi were not that different from any other enemy humanity has fought. Considering that virtually all of humanity’s enemies was humanity itself, their level of ignorance was substantial towards the nature of the Kilrathi. Many people were, but the full employment that war industries provided for some worlds was enough to keep the peace. Protests against the war were most prevalent in the parts of the Terran Confederation opposite of the Kilrathi Empire.

Custer’s Carnival

The operation in Munro earned the name of Custer’s Carnival by the total debacle. The 1st Fleet, with six carriers, four battleships and an arsenal ship, as well as twelve cruisers and twenty destroyers, entered the Munro System expecting a simple fight. Munro had been a bit of a backwater at the start of the war, for only one jump point connected the system with the rest of Confed, through Proxima. The jump point from Proxima came in at the L-5 point for the most distant planet. Just how the Kilrathi entered the system was unknown.

The system was far from a backwater in 2644. The Kilrathi had little to no presence in the outer system, but heavily fortified the two most inner planets, as well as scattered an assortment of fortresses in and between the two planet’s orbits. Munro III had a sizable garrison, as did the moon of Munro VI. Custer ordered the fleet to charge, making his flag on the recently commissioned Tiger’s Claw. Being closest to the Proxima jump point, the fleet struck at Munro VI. The battle for Munro VI was brutal, and far from short. What Custer had hoped would be a simple landing, turned into a prolonged campaign on an airless moon. For three weeks, Marines dug themselves into trenches and foxholes and traded shots outside of the habitat called Victor.

A stream of supply ships entered the system, with forces from the First diverted to escort them. It would do Marines, and later Army soldiers, little good to take the moon if they ran out of food, water or air. Again, McCoy’s Marines did a superb job of securing the habitats once they managed to breach Kilrathi lines outside and storm the Air locks. At the start of the war, only about thirty thousand lived on this moon. After the liberation, Confed accounted for just over five thousand survivors. Several habitats were destroyed during the conquest, and several more to deny them liberation. The survivors were put to work as miners by the Kilrathi, to separate ices from the rocks of the moon for shipment to the inner system.

Only after the liberation of Munro VI did the Kilrathi fleet react. Much to Custer’s surprise, the Kilrathi had a fleet of nearly equal size, though with no battleships and seven more cruisers. Kilrathi fighters targeted the Ragnarok, and just to prove they learned a little about the arsenal ship, two hundred forty Kilrathi fighters were accompanied by eight hundred drones, all with loud FF transponders upon them. Most of the arsenal ship’s first volley hit drones, with only 21% losses to the Kilrathi fighters. Scimitars were forced to intercept the Kilrathi, along with Rapiers. Hornets were held back to protect the fleet. The dog fight beyond the moons of Munro VI’s orbit was the largest to date.

Along with transponders, the drones were equipped with annihilation warheads. When they were hit, they exploded, violently. Several drones did break through the second salvo and homed in on the Ragnarok. Though all were shot down, three exploded sufficiently close to the ship to overload its shields. Rather than risking his interstellar shotgun, Custer ordered the Ragnarok to retreat to Proxima, and detached the Raj to escort the ship. This left TCN at a six-to-five disadvantage, offset only by the destruction of a number of Kilrathi fighters.

Once the arsenal ship was forced out of the fight did the Kilrathi fleet close in. The first fleet engagement lasted for two days, and cost Confed the carrier Tennessee River, as well as a pair of destroyers. The Kilrathi lost one of their own carriers and had a second’s flight deck destroyed. The Tiger’s Claw handled itself remarkably, suffering minimal damage to its shields. Though Bengal-class carriers were involved in the strike on Lafayette, the Kilrathi received so little data from the engagement as to still be unfamiliar with yet another new ship design.

By May, Munro VI was in Confed’s hands and reinforcements began to stream into the system. The Terran victory made Custer confident, and he ordered his carriers and battleships to pursue the Kilrathi. They did, right into a trap in the orbital space of Munro IV. The retreating Kilrathi were joined by a pair of gold-plated Snakiers, similar to those encountered at Venice. These two ships were from the Kilrah Pride’s personal fleet, and only the best pilots were granted the honor to serve the Imperial Pride. The Tiger’s Claw escaped with severe damage, having 75% of its propulsion knocked out, a loss of half its fighter compliment and requiring six months in dock to repair. Other carriers suffered similar losses, with the Finback having its bridge superstructure complete blown off. The battleship Seventeen Provinces was destroyed by a pair of Fralthi.

Custer’s forces were hounded back to Munro VI, where only the presence of reinforcements saved his fleet from destruction. With Confed’s drive further into the system halted, the Kilrathi turned back to their own system headquarters on Munro I. The large Kilrathi presence in the Munro System was a mystery until the defection of a Kilrathi pilot later in the year. The Kilrathi had discovered a jump point some 50 AU out from their home star some nine year previous. The Kilrathi were in Munro in such large numbers because Munro was their Proxima. A jump point close to Munro itself lead directly to the Kilrah System. Had the Kilrathi known of this jump point before the war started, they would quite likely have bypassed McAuliffe, smashed through Proxima and laid waste to Earth in a matter of months. This discovery lead to Confed reinforcing Munro VI, as well as fortifying it and the Proxima jump point. As a result of his losses, Admiral Custer was relieved of his command of the First, and the First fleet was turned into a garrisoning force for the Munro System.

The Bright Side

In July of 2644, when the Battle of Munro was still raging, the 2nd Fleet jumped into the Rostov System. The system was well fortified, but not to the extent of Munro. The Second managed to jump in an surprise the Kilrathi fleet stationed there. In addition to his carriers and battleships, the TCS Doomsday, another arsenal ship, was added to van Oranje’s fleet. Despite having four addition jump points leading into Kilrathi occupied territory, Rostov had only two carriers protecting its fortifications around Rostov III. As with the initial attack on Hubble’s Star, the Kilrathi fighters and warships were overwhelmed by the Doomsday, despite their own attempts at countermeasure. Kilrathi intelligence knew of the arsenal ship, but apparently believed only one existed.

During August, van Oranje used his forces to capture the Kilrathi fortresses as well as Rostov Station. The station had been rebuilt and significantly modified for Kilrathi use. The station was built from the wreckage of the Kilrathi starbase eliminated during a raid years before. Kilrathi attempts to blow the station failed. A mutiny had occurred in engineering by males from minor prides on Ghoran against the station commander, a scion from the Ghoran Pride (one of the Eight). Several of the mutineers were of the Tr’nik’fra Pride, a Pride that once numbered twenty thousand but was destroyed and absorbed by the Ghoran Pride. Again, the feudal nature of the Kilrathi worked in Confed’s favor. Though the mutineers defected, handing over jump point maps, as well as other data to Confed, they were still sent to POW camps as a precaution. A camp built in the Australian outback was used to detain and debrief defectors.

Rostov III had been a frontier world in 2634, with minimal Confed presence, if any. The largest city, Grey’s Town, had only fifty thousand inhabitants before the war began. Defectors tell that the planet was open to Kilrathi colonization, and Prides on the planet tended to ignore the humans unless they had need for labor. Kilrathi soldiers and sailors were known to go down to the planet to hunt the Terrans. The planet had no garrison. The bulk of the Kilrathi presence in the system had been in space, and van Oranje had eliminated it. Additional Kilrathi fortresses, one built to the jump point to Venice. The Kilrathi deployment in the Rostov System reflected the several Terran raids into the system over the course of the war.

By December 2644, Admiral van Oranje declared the system secure, though no invasion of Rostov III had yet to be deployed. The civilian leaders of the planet, the Grn’tahk Pride met with Confed officers to negotiate a settlement where the Prides on Rostov III would be allowed to remain on the planet in return for material support. Not all Prides agreed with this. This fact, coupled with that of the Terran colonists wanting revenge, lead to a two year long war upon the planet (civil war for the Kilrathi) that eventually required a Confed garrison of 250,000 to keep the peace.

Stardust: Mylo

I have edited and posted the first chapter of Stardust: Mylo.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The American Bison

Status: No Danger/Reduced

Once traveling in herds numbers in the tens of millions across the Great Plains, the American Bison, or “buffalo” as they are often called, has since been reduced to largely inhabiting the State of Lakoda, along with portions of Montana and Wyoming. The name buffalo is misleading, since bison are more a kin to sheep, and cattle are more a kin to true buffalo. The bison was long since hunted by the Plains Indians. Even after the coming of the White Man, the Indians in Lakoda Territory, lead by the Souix, continued their practice of hunting. Introduction of domestic cattle across much of the west has crowded the bison out of its former range. At the start of the 21st Century, the only part of America where large herds (numbering more than ten thousand members) can be seen in the wild is in the western Indian State. Though many of the Plains Indians have taken to domesticating the bison, the citizens of Lakoda still practice the hunt, although they no longer depend upon it for their very lives. Wildlife management departments of the three states have done such an excellent job of maintaining the population by allowing limited hunts in Wyoming and Montana, along with the Indians taking only what they need, that the bison is in no danger of going extinct.

Project Herschel

Project Herschel is one of the many follow up missions from Project Pioneer, this time designed to study Uranus and its moons. Because of the low activity and plain appearance of the planet, Uranus was the last to be studied in depth. The project included the launch of several orbiters and landers, all of which were launched from the surface of the moon. The project was overseen by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the United States up until 2090, where it was taken over by Americans on Luna. By the Nanotechnology Revolution, the price of probes dropped below the floor as a new module design was developed and could be put together molecule by molecule.

Herschel (2038): Spent five years orbiting Uranus, scanning the planet and its five moonlets.
Herschel 2 (2049): Spent six years orbiting the planet, and sent a probe into its atmosphere.
Herschel 3 (2060): Was designed to land a lander on Miranda, but the rocket exploded shortly after launching from Luna.
Herschel 4 (2064): Functions for ten years in orbit of Uranus. Sends a lander to Miranda, which contains a sample return rocket. Sample is returned to Luna.
Herschel 5 (2084): Spends ten years in orbit around Uranus. Send a hot air balloon into the planet’s atmosphere, which function for several weeks.
Herschel 6 (2102): The last and largest mission. Three sample return missions; one for Uranus, one for its rings, and one for unusual formations found on Titania during the last mission. The orbiter remained in orbit for twenty years.

The VOC Today

The VOC is the world’s first 600 billion guilder (one trillion dollar) company in history. What was once a mere spice monopoly has become the dominate force in world trading. VOC is to the shipping industry, sea, land and air, what Microsoft is to the operating system industry. It might not be a monopoly, but it is so large and dominate that it might as well be. More than 70% of all Dutch shipping is done by the VOC, and the Company has nearly a 50% market world wide. Countries like China and its Communist satellites use sate-owned shipping monopolies, while Japan and France boycott the VOC in favor of their own national companies. France boycotts to the point where it subsidizes its own shipping companies to make them able to compete.

The VOC is also the 18th largest automotive producer in the world, despite not producing a single passage vehicle. VOC trucks can be seen around the world. The Company is also the fourth largest commercial aircraft producer, though half of these jets are sold as cargo planes to postal services and fast shipping companies around the world. 4th place is not so impressive when one notices the size of the three ahead of them, which the VOC’s production does not even match 20% of the 3rd place company. The VOC also happens to be number eight in the telecommunication industry, and the largest provider for the Dutch Commonwealth.

Outside of government, the VOC is the world’s largest employer, employing well over one million people around the world. The Company pays high wages to its workers in order to keep talent from migrating to a rival, as well as to keep organized labor out of its facilities. Labor unions around the world criticize the VOC for this aspect, as do foreign socialist parties. VOC managers and executives actually receive a proportionally lower than in other multinational corporations. Business interests criticize the Company for this aspect, as do capitalists worldwide. Such moderation, and lack of entitlements without merit, is what has kept the VOC strong, and will continue to do so through the 21st Century.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

VOC... in space!

The first Dutch satellite was launched into orbit in 1959. This was two years after the first satellite. VOC Communications saw the potential in satellites. Using the mathematics of a British engineer, Auther Clarke, VOC Communications aimed to establish a communication network in orbit of Earth. Over the space of several years, starting in 1963, the VOC began to launch its own constellation of communication satellites into geosynchronous orbit. This first network was completed in 1967, and allowed for wireless communication anywhere in the world. The first network was decades ahead of the Information Age, and it was not until the 1990s, that communication satellites were exploited to their fullest.

In order to reach orbit, the VOC established its VOC Stars department. VOC Stars developed and built launch vehicles, satellites and even space capsules. Most of its assets were sunk into unmanned launches, with it flagship rocket, Griffon. Hundreds of Griffons were constructed, and not only used by the Company, but VOC Stars was also under contract with other communication companies for launches. Companies like Bell and Greison found dealing with the VOC a lot easier, and with a lot less red tape, than contracting launches to their own national space programs or aerospace giants.

VOC Stars also built the Capricorn space capsules, a three-man orbital spacecraft, which were purchased by both Commonwealth and British Space Agencies. Though the Capricorns were cheaper than anything produced in the United States, Germany, or Sweden, these other spacefaring nations refused to go beyond their own borders to purchase spacecraft. Italy cooperated with both German and American programs, Italian Astronauts hitching rides on either, while the French struggled to keep in space with the other World Powers.

During the 1980s, the VOC help fund Fort Recife, the first Dutch outpost on the moon. The VOC’s interest in Luna was no geological or astronomical, but rather in researching the practicality of extracting Helium-3 from the Lunar Regolith, and the economy of exporting it back to Earth for use in future fusion reactors.

Wing Commander reboot, part 10


Hubble’s Star

Not until March of 2643, was Hubble IV declared secure. Units of the Kilrathi Army continued to plague Terran forces even after all the major cities were liberated. Organized resistance ended in January, but individual Kilrathi units continued to resist up until the point where they were killed. Of the seven hundred thousand Kilrathi garrisoning the planet at the start of the Terran liberation, only thirty-two hundred seventeen were captured, and only because they were too wounded to fight back. The enemy’s lack of surrender hit morale. More so in the army than on the home front. The media was fed by Confed HQ limited amount of information, such as when cities were liberated and victories on the planet. This was not to say the media was a propaganda tool, for the people heard about losses as well.

Kilrathi willingness to fight to the death greatly concerned Confed. If they fought like this on a planet they conquered, then what sort of resistance would await an invasion of one of their own worlds. On the other side of the conflict, some twenty thousand Kilrathi civilians were on the planet as well. These colonists offered no fight, being minor Prides transplanted to Hubble IV. The females of the Prides had no interest in fighting, and no real loyalty to the Imperial Government. However, many viewed them as a security risk so close to the front lines. Plans were drawn up to relocate the Prides to both the Enigma and Gemini Sectors. Terrans living on the planet wanted nothing more than to kill them all. The total losses on Hubble IV were a badly damaged Hubble Station, one hundred seventeen thousand soldiers and upwards to four million.

Lafayette Strike

The newest carriers in TCN, Bengal and Cobra’s Fang, lead an assault against the Lafayette System. This system sat off to the side of the Vega Sector, and was almost a side-show compared to the rest of the campaign. However, it did offer the Kilrathi the chance to strike into heavily populated systems. Only a small Kilrathi fleet presence was in system, and the new strike carriers proved more than capable of handling them. The single Snakier was taken out in orbit of Lafayette II, while refueling from the planet’s hydrogen reserves.

The system had a marginally habitable planet, that was in the process of terraformation. Terraforming was a process seldom used, since it succeeded in bankrupting the Martian government back in 600-700 A.L. The process of turning a dead world into a living one was very difficult, even if they used nanotechnology. However, Lafayette I was an arid world with a limited ecosystem. Instead of turning the dead into living, Confed just tried to turn the marginal into something that could sustain a higher population. Only a million colonists lived on this world so close to the former frontier. The Kilrathi, from an arid world themselves, loved the planet. So much so, that despite its proximity to the front lines, many persecuted Prides fled to it. Unlike the warrior, all males, the Pride females did not treat conquered peoples with cruelty. They would use them, as forced labor or even outright slaves, if need be, but otherwise were indifferent to those outside their own Pride’s territory.

The planet had only a garrison of ten thousand Kilrathi soldiers, in addition to a hundred thousand civilians. More than twice that of the Terran population was already dead. Kilrathi population tended to cluster around a lone spaceport, which itself was the garrison. Unlike many planets, the Battle for Lafayette I was a short battle, lasting only four days. During that week, nearly all the ten thousand Kilrathi soldiers were killed, as were ten thousand Confed soldiers. Upon liberating the planet, the Confederation Army had its first contact with the Mandarin Society. Thousands of Terrans voluntarily served the Prides, as both servants and remedial labor for the usually skilled labor of the Pride females. In Kilrathi society, rogue males would do unskilled labor until they were old and strong enough to claim a Pride of their own. In their absence, slaves of several species were used.

This first contact was no noted in the media, but those in Confed’s political structure wanted trials of treason for these Terrans. Many such Mandarins were taken by the rest of the Lafayette population and executed as collaborators upon liberation. Some Mandarins did rise up during the invasion, but where quickly killed by the Pride females, which were as vicious as the males when their homes were threatened. The rest were rounded up and placed into interment camps by Confed until they figured out what to do with these seeming traitors. As for the Kilrathi Prides, lack of logistics ruled out deporting them, and in any case the Prides refused to leave. A Confederation garrison of a hundred thousand, nearly equal to the number of Kilrathi on the planet, was installed and martial law established.

Oddly enough, the constant handing over of papers and inspections by Confed personnel was less oppressive than inside the Kilrathi Empire and their ruthless feudal structure. The Prides worked as willingly for Confed as they did for the Empire, and as will all Prides their own political concerns seldom left the family. That is not to say when the male cubs grew to adulthood, they did not flee the planet to join the war against Confed. War was seen a means to grow strong and eventually take a Pride of their own. However, a few of the young males (less than 10%) saw little difference in who they fought, and joined Confed’s armed forces. The reasoning gave by Kilrathi enlistee being that Terrans were not competition for females, while their own species was.

Tears of Warsaw

The Hubble’s Star invasion force moved further into the Empire, after jumping into the Vega System, struck at the Warsaw System in mid-June. Reports of the conquest of Warsaw II were that of devastating loss, and it was wondered if there were any survivors on the planet. Kilrathi forces in the Warsaw System were minor, but again Confed had to neutralize a mine field, which the Ragnarok did without effort. Kilrathi fortresses stationed around the jump point offered stiffer resistance, and succeeded in knocking out the destroyers Monroe and Hydra’s Fury, as well as inflicted damage on the Finback before being destroyed themselves.

The two fleets in-system met two AU from Warsaw II. The Kilrathi were familiar with the arsenal ship after its devastating debut in Hubble’s Star, and launched all their fighters to destroy it. The first wave of fighters, clustered in large formations, were destroyed by a volley of FF missiles. Raptors and Scimitars were launched against the Kilrathi cruisers, which were the source of the fighters, as well as a rebuilt and remodeled Warsaw Station. Hornets were deployed to intercept any Kilrathi anti-ship missiles launched towards the fleet. The Kilrathi fleet was destroyed after two days of fighting, but not before they managed to destroy three more TCN destroyers, the cruiser Vienna and causing further damage to Finback. The carrier was forced to retreat to Vega, then to Proxima for extensive repairs in space dock.

Though the invasion of Warsaw II was intended to distract from Confed’s main objective of the year, it turned into a war of its own, dragging on for more than a year and requiring reinforcements that could have been used elsewhere. Hundreds of thousands of Kilrathi soldiers defended the planet, scattered across the globe. Each of the surviving cities had to be fought over, in some cases house-to-house. During the course of the reconquest, it was learned that only half of the original seventy million Terrans were still alive. The Kilrathi had a light colonization of the planet. The slaughter of Terran civilians made the Terrans trying to take back the planet less than sympathetic to the Kilrathi colonists, many whom were killed during the fighting.


A second fleet, built around five carriers and four battleships, struck out from Hell’s Kitchen to retake Pephedro at the same time as the fighting in the Warsaw System was raging. Taking Pephedro would bring Rostov one step closer, and the eventual outflanking of Kilrathi forces in McAuliffe and Deino. Though it was intended to be the main thrust of the Vega Sector Campaign for 2643, the invasion of Pephedro was but a small battle. There was no Kilrathi naval presence in the system, which worried Confed greatly when Kilrathi ships went missing. The fleet, under the command of Admiral Thomas van Oranje, who fittingly had his flag on the battleship Prince of Orange, ordered his fleet to attack the outlying planets of the system. The Kilrathi had garrisoned the three moons of Pephedro VII, all lifeless. In order to capture these bases, which van Oranje wanted in tact, Confed Marines had to fight the Kilrathi in a low gravity, and airless environment. Being so dangerous, the casualty rates were far higher for what would have just been wounds on a habitable world.

Only two of the three bases were captured. On the second moon, the Kilrathi commander blew up the station rather than let it fall into enemy hands, killing many Marines who were fighting in the station at the time. The innermost planet had its own bases, with agricultural tents (domed craters) as well as vast underground facilities. Van Oranje opted out of invading Pephedro I after the losses on the second moon. Instead, Confed fighters bombed defensive batteries and solar power stations. Van Oranje gave the Kilrathi the option of surrendering or starving before effectively bypassing the planet.

The habitats on Pephedro II, where Terrans mostly lived before the war began, were only lightly defended. Pephedro Station, at the stellar-planetary L2 point, was stormed by Marines in late August. Boarding pods hit the station at its docking facilities as well as its command center (on top of the station) and its reactors (on a boon on the bottom). This way, van Oranje had hoped to avoid having the Kilrathi blow up the station in spite. They never did, but nor did they surrender. Two weeks were spent in capturing Pephedro Station. The reason for such a prolonged battle on a starbase was due to most of the Pephedro II’s garrison being stationed there.

Thousands more were based on Pephedro II, but before Confed could begin the invasion of the planet, Kilrathi shuttles began to take off the planet, as well as larger ships, and made their way to Pephedro I, where the local Kilrathi commander believed he stood his best chance at holding out. Van Oranje, happy to see his real target abandoned, did not let the Kilrathi retreat peacefully. Dozens of shuttles were intercepted by Scimitars and destroyed. There was no invasion of the innermost planet, and the Kilrathi languished there until a relief fleet arrived in November. After fighting its way past van Oranje, the battered Kilrathi fleet evacuated Pephedro I before destroying the base. The Kilrathi did manage to score hits on TCN, damaging two battleships, the Prince of Orange and Ho Chi Minh, blowing a hole in the carrier Ranger, and destroying four destroyers and a cruiser.

Dutch Commonwealth Uniforms

Commonwealth Navy

Commonwealth Air Force

Commonwealth Army

Monday, September 13, 2010

VOC's Post-war Interventions

During the era of decolonization (1950-90), dozens of international corporations intervened and influenced events on their behalf across Africa. The VOC was not above intervention, and would do so in areas infested with pirates, such as West Africa. VOC Marines stormed pirate dens in Biafra and Guinea repeatedly during the 1960s. The Company even went as far as to prop-up hardline governments, simply because they would reign in the pirates. Investors believed the Company was wasting money, but to have VOC warships on permanent patrol of the region would have cost more than to subsidize strong arm dictators. Discovery of oil in the region brought a return on the investment, as these regimes gave the VOC most favored trade status.

The largest intervention in the post-war years came in the Aegean Sea. VOC Oil has operated oil fields in Armenia and Kurdistan for years. Turkey, with delusions of grandeur concerning restoring the Ottoman Empire in the wake of the Balkan Wars, destabilized the region. Mines in the Aegean, and closing off the Black Sea to trade were a severe threat to the VOC. Instead of siting back an waiting, the Company backed Greece. With discounts on equipment and even old VOC frigates, the Greeks managed to secure the Asian shores of the Aegean. With the Bosporus securely in the hands of the Greeks, oil shipments from the Middle East could continue unharmed.

Wing Commander reboot, part 9


Rotating the Guard

By the start of 2642, the Concordias were starting to show their age, and the last of the Vanguards were launched from Mercury, Confed commissioned a new class of larger, more powerful carriers. The Bengal-class carriers were to be strike carriers, capable of engaging enemy task forces with minimal support. When working together as a fleet, these new strike carriers would be able to devastate the Kilrathi. At least, that was the sales pitch from R&D. The reality of the situation was that, though they would be more than twice the size of the Vanguards, the Bengals would also cost three times as much. It was the age old debate; quantity or quality? The Bengals would pack quite the punch, but at the rate of loss Confed has experienced, some Admirals and Generals wondered if it would not be more prudent to build more ship.

The debate was settled, and the Congress of the Confederation voted to allocate funding for ten Bengal-class Strike Carriers, along with the new Venture-class Corvette and Formidable-class destroyers. Funding for the new Monarch-class cruisers was voted down in 2642, due to cost overruns. War or not, the Congress was not about to reward inept designs or crooked companies. However, they would act against business interests. After attempts to cut corners, the whole Monarch project was seized and handed over to the Trojan IV shipyards, known for their reliable products.

With new ships on line, Confed HQ decided it was time to pull the Concordia-class carriers off the front line. They would not be recycled or even mothballed. The four surviving ships would be used to escort convoys as well as patrol systems behind Confed’s lines, at least a jump away from the front. The ships still had their use, but were no match for the Kilrathi Snakier-class carriers. The four ships to survive the first few years of the war were the Arc Royal, Victory, Libertè and Viking. This of more than twelve Concordias that were in service in 2634. The Kilrathi War would continue to see proportionally high loses, especially considering previous war. When human fought human, lose rates could be between 10% and 20%. Against the Kilrathi, it was not uncommon for more than half the class of ships to be destroyed.

Liberation Day

The first step in Confed’s long planet-hopping war began at Hubble’s Star. By the start of 2642, hundreds of invasion craft, and hundreds of thousands of Confed Marines (nearly two million Army soldiers were ready to move in as soon as the Marines did their job, which primarily is to either board enemy installations or secure landing zones) were stationed on Hubble I, under the protection of Hubble Star’s radiation. The fact that the Kilrathi had not even ventured further in-system than the orbit of Hubble III struck many in Confed as suspicious. Truth was, Merak nar Trk’Pahn (scion of the Trk’Pahn Pride, one of the Eight) thought so little of uninhabitable planets, that he largely ignored them– unless they had hydrogen atmospheres. The Kilrathi were not a people interested in exploring for exploration’s sake.

The initial strike did not come from Hubble I, but from the Vega System. The Siege of Vega was lifted when a fleet lead by Admiral Ronald de Chump entered the system as the Kilrathi task force from Alcor was nearing Vega Station. De Chump’s response was immediate and permanent. In order to prevent his fleet’s existence from being detected, shuttles (escorted by Rapiers) outfitted with powerful jammers were launched across the system. Since communication was still light-speed, any news the Kilrathi would send back would take hours to reach the Alcor Jump Point Comm Relay, before being relayed to Alcor. Given the highly centralized nature of the Imperial Navy, the signal would likely be routed all the way back to Kilrah, or at the very least to Venice. Intel estimated at most two days before the Kilrathi knew about them. Thus, all signals were jammed.

The Kilrathi task force of one carrier, two cruisers and five destroyers were quickly overran by the TCN force of five carriers, two battleships, an arsenal ship, eight cruisers, and fourteen destroyers. The TCS Ragnarok was kept behind to prevent the Kilrathi from detecting it, in the off chance they managed to get a signal out. Fighters from the Tennessee River, Finback, Raj, Avenger and Harrier, overwhelmed the Kilrathi in a matter of minutes. The Kilrathi had plenty of warning of the oncoming attack, and attempted to retreat. Thanks to the work of shuttle pilots, any signal was prevented from leaving the system.

With Vega cleared, and no new attack expected for at least a week (given the rotation scheme employed for the siege), de Chump was clear to move on to Hubble’s Star. It was known from forces on Hubble I, that a mine field awaited any ship that entered Hubble’s Star. Since Kilrathi ships had been using the jump point, the mines were correctly believed to be using FF tags, destroying any ship that lacked the proper transponder code. To combat this, Confed’s arsenal ship was about to be put to use. Before the Ragnarok jumped into the system, the destroyer Dragonheart jumped into Hubble’s Star to radio back the situation.

All was clear and the Ragnarok jumped in afterwards. Ships could only jump one at a time, and given the less-than-stable nature of jump points, not always in the same place. Thirty seconds was the standard procedure for jumps, to allow the ship enough time to get out of the way. Ragnarok jumped in without escort, save a lone destroyer. In its launchers were five hundred drones, all with over-sized transponders installed. When all launched within a matter of seconds of each other, they darted into the mine field, triggering all the FF mines in a wide enough swath to allow the fleet safe passage.

The Kilrathi on station in their star base received a surprise when hundreds of mines suddenly detonated. Not expecting anything to have survived that, they did not immediately scramble fighters, allowing the Finback and Raj time to jump into the system and launch all their fighters. Within ten minutes, several destroyers and a cruiser surrounded the arsenal ship as fighters from three carriers struck at the Kilrathi star base. The pilots did not attempt to destroy the base; instead they neutralized the weapons on the side of the station facing the jump point. Raptors eliminated the turrets and launchers as Scimitars escorted a hundred boarding shuttles to assault the station.

Under the command of Colonel Ray McCoy, a regiment of Confed Marines stormed the star base. The Kilrathi, those not wounded during the attack, threw together a piecemeal defense of the star base. They fought fiercely, and made the Terrans fight for every corridor at high cost, but their lack of coordination prevented a successful defense. The Kilrathi did not surrender, and only a lucky shot from a unanimous Confed pilot disabled any self-destruct capability. The Kilrathi defending the station were killed almost to the last, with only the incapacitated taken prisoner. The star base was captured in tact and taken in only seven hours of fierce fighting. The same was not the case for Dratok Station, orbiting Hubble VI. This way point was destroyed four days later.

Confed’s fleet faced off against the Kilrathi task force in Hubble’s Star a week later, only a day out of Hubble IV. Fighters from the Kilrathi carrier, orbital facilities and the planet’s surface attempted to launch a joint-strike against de Chump. In the center of TCN’s fleet was the Ragnarok, reloaded and ready to fire. The arsenal ship launched another salvo of five hundred, this time FF missiles. Not a single Kilrathi fighter survived the shotgun effect of the Ragnarok’s weapons. Missiles that were not destroyed continued on towards the Kilrathi fleet, destroying any ship that lacked strong enough shields.

Though the arsenal ship seems to be the ultimate weapon, it had limited ammunition and was vulnerable to attack when not firing. It also took several minutes to reload the launchers. Along with five hundred missiles, the arsenal ship also had an addition fifty tubes for anti-ship missiles. These anti-ship missiles were launched in rapid succession against Kilrathi ships and orbital defenses. The small Kilrathi task force, as well as all orbital facilities and stations, were destroyed. For Confed’s pilots, it seemed as if their only job during the battle was to make sure the Ragnarok was not destroyed. Hubble’s Star was a shock to the Kilrathi, but as soon as they learned the nature of the BBG, they would soon throw all their forces into knocking any of them out first.

With orbital space secure, the Marines on Hubble I made the journey to Hubble IV. Eighty thousand Marines splashed down on Hydra’s Sea, the landing craft beaching themselves both north and south of Port Moresby. All of Confed’s ships capable of entering atmospheres were designed to land on water, using lakes and sheltered bays as runways. Kilrathi disliked water, and tended to stay further inland. However, Port Moresby was not the water kind of port, but home to the second largest spaceport on the planet.

Only ten thousand Kilrathi occupied the city, but they put up a fierce resistance to Confed’ Marines. With three days of fighting and ten thousand of their own casualties (half dead), the Marines eliminated the last Kilrathi defenders around the spaceport. As soon as the all-clear was sent, transports began to land (though designed to land on water, their space drives allowed for a vertical landing on land as well) units of the Confederation Army to retake the planet. Eventually, well over a million soldiers would be required to liberate the planet.

During the liberation, units of the Army made contact with Terran Resistance. Where the Army had told its soldiers not to engage in hand-to-hand combat against the larger Kilrathi, the resistance were armed with an array of melee weapons, ranging from swords to tomahawks. The resistance’s low-tech approach (along with their own guns) was balanced by Confed’ high tech tools of war. The combat drone was deployed against the Kilrathi. Artificial intelligence had never turned out to be very.

Combat drones, fired in their cone-shaped bodies from orbit or dropped by fighters, had to be programmed with a general attack pattern. In the case of fortified locations, the program simply stated; kill all Kilrathi. Most drones were only two meters in height, but the larger ones (nicknamed Bubba by the grunts) stood some six meters tall, were tripods and brimmed with pulse weapons, old fashion machine guns and even a graser pod. Despite these killing machines, the planet would not be completely back in Confederation hands until sometime in 2643.

First Mars Landing

It was not until more than a century after the exchange, in the year 103 A.L., that humanity first stepped foot upon the red planet. These explorers did not come from Earth, but rather the prosperous, and unscathed, moon. In the Continental States, one of the successor states upon Luna, Simmon Gates, one of the heirs of the Gates Foundation, outfitted the first expedition. It was a total privately financed flight, with the C. S. Government lacking the resources to divert to any unprofitable trips. They had, for decades, funded trips t Earth-crossing asteroids to mine the rocks for heavy metals not abundant on the Lunar surface.

The mission had no name, and the crew of eleven flew to Mars in a modified heavy lifter. Instead of conventional engines, this ship, the Mars Express, flew using a new fission drive. It did not need oxidizers to burn the fuel, and just propelled it directly through reactors. The ship also had the benefit of constant acceleration-deceleration, with the only periods of weightlessness being in orbit of Luna and Mars, and when the ship had to turn around to begin slowing. Flight time to and from Mars was only ten weeks.

The ship landed near the Hellas Basin. The overall goal of the mission was to find life, or evidence of previous occupants. For a year, the crew searched and failed to find any solid proof. However, they did tap into an aquifer, so salty that nothing could live in it. With a source of water, that could be purified later, and convinced nothing lived at the site of a kilometer wide crater, one of the last tasks before leaving Mars was to release a crate of nanites. These machines would build a dome over the crater. Gates planned a second expedition, which would bring in plants, animals and material required to establish an ecology within the habitat. It would serve as a headquarters for further exploration of the planet. Two more missions were flown over the next decade, both construction missions, completing the habitat within ten years.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

VOC in World War II

Unlike the Great War, the VOC did not have two years to prepare itself for the Commonwealth to be drug into a world war. World War II hit the United Provinces abruptly in 1940, when Fuhrer German forces spilled across the borders on their way to France. Due to the emergency of the situation, company destroyers were pressed into Commonwealth service. The Company rented out its frigates as escorts, while building more for the war effort. VOC freighters were quickly brought into various VOC docks around the world, and by the start of 1942, all VOC ships were armed with anti-aircraft weapons and a deck gun.

The strangest of the Company’s products of the war was a strange hybrid freighter, with a flight deck built on the starboard side of the ships. Only a small percentage, 4% of VOC freighters produced during the war carried these narrow flight decks. Due to size restrictions, only a total of four fighters could be carried by each escort freighter. Fighters carried by them were obsolete by naval standards, yet served well in attacking submarines, fending off scout planes and spotting commerce raiders.

Production in almost all of the VOC’s sectors was up. Freighter production alone was second only to the liberty ships of the United States. VOC had shipyards scattered well out of range of Axis and Japanese attacks, and did not suffer the damage. Japanese raids on Ceylon and a Spanish raid on northeastern Brazil were the closest the enemy came to touching VOC production facilities outside of the United Provinces. Many of those were destroyed by retreating Commonwealth soldiers rather than be let to fall into the hands of Fuhrer Germany.

VOC Auto produced tens of thousands of six-wheel drive trucks for the Commonwealth Army, and VOC Air converted its airline production into airborne transports and cargo planes. One fast VOC air mail plane, the VOC Model 1939-C, was easily converted into the fighters used on board escort freighters. It was fast enough (404 kph) to be a fighter, but the speed was caused by its lightness. Though it could keep up with fighters of the time, its lack of armor would have meant it an easy target. However, they could carry 100 kg bombs as well as depth charges.

Friday, September 10, 2010

VOC Auto

The VOC was slow to catch on to the automotive industry. Though the railroad could not deliver goods directly to all points, the company believed that it more than made up for it volume and cost efficiency. The automobile during the last decade of the 19th Century and first of the 20th, the automobile was seen as a rich man’s toy. Not until Henry Ford perfected his assembly line approach, which lowered the cost to make automobiles marketable, did the VOC take notice. The VOC purchased a number of ford trucks to augment VOC Rail. These trucks worked for teamsters under VOC contract to deliver goods from the rail depot directly to the store.

It was not until 1924, when the company established VOC Auto and built its first plant in Brazil. VOC Auto was never intended to mass produce motorcars for the public. Instead, it produced thousands of trucks, mostly for company use but also sold to other trucking companies as well as freelance teamsters. There was some debate in the Board about going into the mass consumer market, but by the middle of the 1920s, the market was becoming saturated. The automobile industry, with its reliable and long-lasting vehicles, was a bubble just waiting to burst.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Almanac: Greece

Population: 62,317,040
Language: Greek
Religion: Greek Orthodox (Official)
Area: 377,800 km2
Capital: Constantinople
Largest Cities: Athens , Constantinople
Government: Republic
Head of State: Constantine Niarchos
Divisions: 23 States
Industries: Macedonia Tank Works, Tourism, Agriculture, Mining, Fishing
Crops: Wheat, Olives, Tobacco, Grapes, Almonds, Pomegranates
Resources: Building material, copper, fish
Currency: Drachma (7.23 = 1.00 US$)
GNP: $ 401 bin
Per Capita: $ 6,434.83
Import: Fuels, steel, electronics, software, chemicals
Export: Armored Fighting Vehicles, textiles, foodstuffs, marble, tobacco products, beer
Trade: Dutch Commonwealth, Kurdistan, Arab Republic, various African and Asian states.
Life Expec: 69.3 years
Education: Primary and Secondary are compulsory; state-paid Higher Education.
Literacy: 94.2%
Military: Standing Army of 200,000. Air force of 500 planes. Navy of 400 ships, mostly small.
Conscript: Yes; lottery system for ages 18-22; four year term of service.

VOC During the Great War

Before Dutch entry into the Great War, the VOC lost little in the way of shipping. Every ship flew a large VOC flag. Their size made all combatants in the war think twice about openly attacking them. That is not to say the VOC was without losses, for forty-seven of their ships were lost in 1914, alone, all by submarine attacks., usually in the territorial waters of their intended destination. Not until after the Van Der Weld incident did Entente ships begin attacking VOC shipping in the open.

To counter, the VOC quickly adopted the same convoy system used in pirate-infested waters. Ten to twenty VOC cargo ships would move as a group, with several of the ships armed with deck guns. The company used its own small private navy as both escorts and hunters of commerce raiders. Nearly half of the enemy commerce raiders sunk by the Commonwealth warships was done so by the VOC. Company bounties on commerce raiders was partially to credit this amount of success. During the war, the loss of poorly armed and guarded competition added to the VOC’s business. As it was the only shipping company that could afford to arm its own ships as well as provide their own escorts, customers flocked to the VOC’s secure ships. The VOC share in total Dutch maritime shipping reached 50% by the end of the war.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Almanac: Java

Population: 52,984,132
Language: Dutch (official), Javanese
Religion: 90% Muslim, 4% Hindu, 3% Protestant, 3% Catholic
Area: 138,794 km2
Capital: Jakarta
Largest Cities: Jakarta
Government: Constitutional Monarchy
Head of State: Princess Beatrix
Divisions: 8 provinces
Industries: Petrochemical, spices, rubber
Crops: Coffee, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, rice, peanuts, sweet potatoes, cocoa
Resources: Oil, lumber, rubber
Currency: Guilder (0.603 = 1.000 $US)
GNP: $ 101 bin
Per Capita: $ 1,906.23
Import: Grains,
Export: Spices, petrochemicals, rubber, marble
Trade: Other Commonwealth Members, China, Japan, Australia
Life Expec: 69 years
Education: Primary and Secondary are compulsory; a 93% graduation rate
Literacy: 97%
Military: Part of the Dutch Commonwealth of Nations; home to 8th Fleet.
Conscript: No

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Wing Commander reboot, part 8


Siege of Vega

With insufficient forces to launch any further invasions in the Vega Sector, the Kilrathi High Command, Vega Sector, switched strategies. Instead of conquering the Vega System, administration center of the Sector, the Kilrathi would lay siege to it. Siege warfare in space is far different than on land. Instead of continuous shelling, the Kilrathi would station task forces in Hubble’s Star, Alcor and Trimble, and would alternate between task forces in attacking the system. Each task force was built around a Snakier-class carrier, the Kilrathi equivalent to the Concordia-class, and included a pair of Fralthi as well as an assortment of smaller ships. One force would jump in, strike at targets in the system. As they jumped out, the next task force would jump in and take over. For several months, these raids continued, and with much devastation. Attempts to pursue the Kilrathi met with disaster, in that the ends of the jump point on their side were heavily mined.

In May of 2641, the most devastating attack during the siege occurred when the Alcor task force struck at Vega Heavy Industry’s shipyards. Vega is a young system, with no habitable planets, plenty of metal-rich asteroids, and abundant energy from the relatively young A-type star. These factors have summoned industrialist from systems poorer in metals. The administration center on Vega Station is supported by the heavy industries of the system. Along with a shipyard, smelters and processors gather raw materials from asteroids, purify them, and ship them to other systems. The easy access to raw materials is another reason of Vega’s vital importance. The shipyard service much of the Alliance-Hubble line, and its loss forced damaged Confed ships to jump back to Proxima, or in really bad cases, to Sirius in the Sol Sector.

Due to the spread out nature of the system’s industries, TCN could not be every where, all the time. A Kilrathi feint towards Vega Station drew in all the Confed ships, while the real task force struck the shipyards. Ships could not be spared from other fortified systems in fear that the Kilrathi made strike there in force. This is not to say Confed was ineffective during the Siege of Vega. Kilrathi fighters were regularly destroyed, and their ships damaged. However, when they jumped back into their own space, fighters were replaced and ships repaired, while the next task force jumped in to harass Vega.

Vega Sector Campaign

In June of this year, Admiral Banbridge presented his plans for the overall campaign in the Vega Sector to Confed’s Joint-Chiefs. His plan called for planet hopping. Key planets would be taken, as well as jump points secured, while other hold outs would be bypassed for later operations. His overall objective was to push the Kilrathi completely out of the Vega Sector. The campaign would call for no less than twelve planetary invasions and was projected to take at least a decade to complete.

To start the campaign, Confed had already constructed nine new carriers as well as a new Grenadier-class cruiser project underway, new and improved versions of century-old grasers, four new types of fighters, as well as the first of the Ragnarok-class arsenal ships ready for action. Ground combat was the largest concern. Not only were the Kilrathi larger and stronger than Terrans, but their planetary weaponry was little known. No doubt the first of the planet-hopping invasions would meet with several nasty surprises. Armor units of tanks and mechanized infantry units of powered armor were assumed to be quite effective against the Kilrathi, however regular infantry still used rifles and their own muscle. Hand-to-hand combat with the Kilrathi appeared suicidal.

The Joint-Chiefs, as well as Confed HQ, gave the go ahead for the campaign in August. The first target was highly classified, and only the fleet admiral and the flagships’s navigators knew the true destination. The fleet would not be able to deploy before 2642. Before then, to hide their true target, Confed set up a series of raids of their own to keep the Kilrathi off balance.

Fleet Actions of 2641

Confed launched three large raids during the year. The first targeted the Delius System, on the flanks of the main fight. The possibility of a flanking maneuver against the Kilrathi in the Vega Sector was a distinct possibility, and Confed wished to give the Kilrathi plenty to worry about. A strike force built around carriers Victory, Tennessee River and Libertè hit the system and struck at a starbase orbiting Delius V. Though the starbase was not destroyed, several orbital fortresses were knocked out of action, as well as habitat (domed crater) on the surface of its largest moon that was home to a Kilrathi division. More than twenty scope-ships (that scoop hydrogen out of Delius V’s atmosphere) were destroyed, rupturing the system’s fuel lines. No doubt a number of Terran slaves were killed in the attack.

A second attack struck coreward in the Vega Sector, hitting the Port Hadland System. Kilrathi resistance here was significantly larger, and the carriers Finback and Resolution suffered damage when Kilrathi fighters and bombers intercepted the force. This raid faired the poorest of the three, destroying several eights of Kilrathi fighters, bombers and corvettes. The strike force hit three convoys headed for Hubble’s Star, denying the enemy ammunition, spare parts as well as reinforcements. One freighter exploded with enough force to destroy the Raptor that attacked it as well, leading analyst to the conclusion it was storing annihilation (anti-matter) warheads on board, a warhead often used by anti-ship missiles.

The third strike was the most daring. It jumped into the Rostov System, crippled a Kilrathi starbase, as well as destroyed several ships docked at it, then proceeded to jump into the Kharak Tar System, as the Kilrathi called it. The system soon became known as the Venice System, for its pair of ocean worlds, similar to the pre-ice age tropics on Earth. More over, Venice System was home to Kharak Tar Station, the Kilrathi HQ for the Vega Sector. The station could not be destroyed by the fighter compliments of the Raj, Vendetta and Viking alone.

Due to the destruction in Rostov, the Kilrathi had advance warning of Confed’s attack on Venice. Two fleets jumped in from the Kilrah Sector in order to cover the system, revealing that the Kilrathi Navy was far larger than anyone in Confed realized. Both fleets were not the standard ships they had encountered during the past several years, but rather larger, more powerful ships. On fleet belonged to the Ki’ra Pride, and contained two carriers. The second fleet, with some of its ships actually gold-plated, belonged to the Kilrah Pride. The Imperial Guard was not a show piece, but rather comprised of the most skilled and able pilots and captains within the Empire. To be selected as part of the defenders of Kilrah was the highest honor. Of this fleet, four carriers were included.

Admiral Richards, commander of the strike force, realized too late that he was outnumbered two-to-one. Despite Confed’s more advanced fighters, the fierceness of the two Pride Fleets. Every Confed ship was damaged, as the Vendetta, as well as destroyers Garret, and frigates Minnow and Reuben James were destroyed outright. Viking was damaged, but managed to jump back to Rostov. To return to Confed lines, the strike force traced a highly elliptical course to the jump point. Neither Pride Fleet pursued, and it was later learned from defectors that none of the Council of Eight, or the Imperial Pride, trust each other enough to commit their personal forces to the war, and leave their own worlds exposed. Though they did no damage in the Venice System, this third raid was important in learning sooner, rather than later, of just how large the Kilrathi Empire and their forces truly were.