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.
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.