Monday, October 18, 2010
Wing Commander reboot, part 17
On The Drawing Board
By 2650, the Kilrathi were overcoming earlier technical leaps Confed had made. To keep ahead in this arms race, Confed put on the order for the next few years a whole new sweep of fighters, fast carriers and new fleet carriers. For fighters, the aging Hornets were slated to be replaced by the newer, faster Ferrets. Scimitars would still be in use and production, but augmented by newer Rapier II. The older, heavier Rapier I would be replaced by the Sabers, heavy fighters capable of carrying anti-ship missiles, as well as an automated rear turret. Replacing the venerable Raptors would be two ships. The standard bombers of TCN would be the Crossbow, while the largerBroadswords, with a crew of four and almost the same firepower as a pre-war corvette.
The Bengals were powerful strike ships, but there were not fast enough to suit some missions. What Confed wanted in 2650, was a new class of carriers. Lighter than the Bengals, and much faster. The Waterloo-class fast carriers were slated to come on line by 2652. These carriers would be capable of crossing a system in a week, with a cruising speed upwards to 10 PSL. A second type of carrier was also on the drawing board, though it was not expected to be launched until 2654. The Confederation-class carriers would form the backbone of fleet actions, taking over for the Vanguards.
The Confederation budget in the year 2650 A.L., dedicated 53% of its revenue for the war effort, well over a quadrillion credits. The cost of a dozen carriers was but a small part of the cost. Hundreds of thousands of fighters and bombers were constructed for planetary defenses, even for those not on front lines. Hundreds of millions of small arms, and well over a billion grenades for 2649, alone. Confed had a standing army of two hundred million, out of a total population of nearly two hundred billion. Millions of pieces of artillery were deployed across the entire Vega Sector. The cost of new fortresses as well as system stations took its toll on the budget.
Over the course of the war, Congress was forced to eliminate entire departments within its own government just to fund the war effort. The Department of Planetary Development, Department of Health, and Department of Social Welfare were eliminated entirely. Departments of Industry and of Energy were scaled back. In the case of the latter, the only funding it received was for the anti-matter production plants under its mandate. Pre-war perks, such as unemployment insurance and retirement funds vanished as funding evaporated. Education was unaffected for the war required educated individuals to fight the Kilrathi.
Many budget slashing moves were very unpopular. Non-profit hospitals and subsidized food for import-dependent worlds drove the cost of living upwards, as did the rise in taxation. For individuals, taxes rose only slightly. Corporate taxes doubled and property taxes tripled as Confed grasped for all the funding it could take. These moves, coupled with the near lack of luxuries for the past fifteen years caused many riots across the Sol Sector. On some worlds, conscription was used to remove the excess dissidence. On a plus side, the expansion of war industries eliminated unemployment on many worlds. Anybody who was capable of working was encouraged to do so.
A propaganda blitz was launched a decade before, urging those who could not serve in the armed forces to quit their current jobs and go work in the war industries. Many workers saw it as their patriotic duty, not to mention a matter of survival, to do just this. Strikes were down as union members had to chose between their Unions and their lives. If the Kilrathi won, there would be no second chance, and many people knew this. This was the survival factor in people moving from high paying jobs to, in some cases, a reduction by half their previous wages.
While civilians were bickering and griping, Admiral van Oranje moved into the Brimstone System. Of the planets, only Brimstone II was populated, though the Kilrathi had a number of bases scattered across the system. For this operation, Confed allocated three million soldiers to conquer the system. Kilrathi fleet presence was higher in Brimstone, with four carriers against Confed’s six. The Kilrathi carrier-borne fighters, as well as those based at fortresses, immediately plagued the Confed fleet as it pushed into the system. Their first target was a small base built into the lone moon of Brimstone VII.
Only thirty thousand soldiers were required to take the base, though more than a week was spent clearing out every corridors and room within the underground installation. Fighters from the moon, only sixteen were based there, struck at Confed while the fleet was entering orbit. Though all but two were destroyed, the Kilrathi managed to snap a destroyer in half as well as inflict damage upon the Prince of Orange. With the moon under Confed control, operations to interdict all freighters headed for Brimstone II.
On the planet, ahead of Confed’s invasion, a number of human operatives were already at work. The man goal of these irregulars was observation and Intel. A secondary goal was that of sabotage. The planet was only marginal habitable, with simple lifeforms living in its seas. The Kilrathi have a number of domed settlements and installations across the planet. Terran commandos would strike at the habitats, damaging air locks and blowing up life-support modules. The commandos would be alone until Confed secured the other three Kilrathi fortresses that guarded the other three jump points into their territory.
The two fleets met at the third fortress, at the jump point leading to Dakota. The Kilrathi remained deployed around the jump point, keeping their supple line open. Three of the carriers launched full scale strikes on Confed, while the four used its fighters to protect the fleet. The Kilrathi fighter attack was fierce, causing much destruction to TCN. Confed lost a further two destroyers as well as the carrier Finback. The Kilrathi lost one of their own carriers, as well as an assortment of smaller ships that covered the larger ships as they retreated.
The odd pattern of the Kilrathi continued at Brimstone. Normally, one would assume that the Kilrathi would fight harder as Confed pushed them further and further back. Instead, they fought less, though not any less vicious in their actual attacks. Some believed it was a sign that the Kilrathi were weakening in the Sector, while a few more cautious individuals, including Banbridge, believed the Kilrathi were up to something. The Kilrathi could have held out longer in Brimstone, albeit at a higher cost to themselves, as well as the attackers.
After a month of securing space, Confed moved on Brimstone II. The initial invasion of eighty thousand Marines landed in two zones, one in each of the planet’s hemisphere. Though the Kilrathi fleet did not fight as hard, despite seven small raids into the system during Confed’s conquest, their foot soldiers held nothing back. Eight months were required to storm and capture each of the planet’s habitats, with Confed eventually deploying 2.3 million of its allocated soldiers in the effort. Of the million Kilrathi soldiers on the planet, less than ten percent survived. Total cost of Brimstone was 900,000 Kilrathi and 480,000 Terrans (both wounded and killed). The reason for such higher proportional losses to the Kilrathi was due to more to the hostile environment of Brimstone II than actual KIA.