Monday, November 29, 2010
Wing Commander reboot, part 24
The Epee Project
Early in the year, part of the Unseen Death threat was positively identified by Confed Intel. A new anti-ship missile, code-named Skippers, were part of this new threat, though not the whole story. She anti-ship missiles have a level of stealth beyond anything Confed developed. The missiles will actually cloak themselves, using a gravitational field to bend light around them, to elude detection. The code-name came from the fact that the skippers must de-cloak in order to regain lock. The advantage to bending light is it remains invisible; the disadvantage is that the missile can not see where it is going.
To combat the skippers, a new light fighter was put into design. The F-54 Epee is more maneuverable than the P-64 Ferrets, as well as packed with more sensitive sensors. Officially, the Epee was classified as a light fighter. In reality, it was designed solely to detect and destroy cloaked objects. If the Kilrathi can apply these cloaking devices to anti-ship missiles, than they can do the same thing with mines as well as fighters. Unknown at the time of the project’s inception, the Kilrathi had already deployed a limited number of fighters with cloaking technology. All of the Strakha fighters were constructed at an assembly plant at the Kilrah Pride’s shipyards, orbiting Kilrah. Due to navigational problems while cloaked, the production of these stealthy fighters has always been limited, as the scope of their mission parameters.
Destruction at Novaya Kiev
Admiral van Oranje arrived with his fleet of five carriers, three battleships and eight cruisers, as well as other, smaller ships, at Novaya Kiev early in the year, after a several month journey through several systems from the Vega Sector. His crew was tired and demoralized at the sudden turn of events. Unseen Death started to tip the balance of the war back in the Kilrathi’s favor. The Skippers were already a known threat by the time of van Oranje’s arrival. All Ferrets and Rapiers were on constant patrol, and a dozen frigates swept space with a full-spectrum sweep.
A Kilrathi task force, less than half the size of van Oranje’s, jumped into the system from Ghorah Khar, a recently colonized system. Van Oranje ordered an immediate launch of all Sabers and Broadswords to destroy the Kilrathi carriers. The two Kilrathi carriers turned out to be the decoys. Flanking around both sides of the carriers, on long arcs across the system, were one Fralthra each. These cruisers carried a flight of Strakhas as well as Skippers. The cruisers themselves were too large to cloak, but managed to slip into firing range undetected. The first indication that two large cruisers were approaching the fleet is when the sensors on the Eagle’s Talon, van Oranje’s flagship, detected them.
Four Confed cruisers and two battleships moved to intercept these two Kilrathi cruisers, with a battleship and pair of cruisers targeting each ship. It appeared to be an easy kill. However, the Strakha was still unknown to Confed, and the fighters carried modified IR missiles (each carrying an annihilation warhead instead of the standard fusion warhead). The fighters struck fast enough to kill the cruisers Vesta and Majesty outright, and damaged the rest of the ships. While they were focused on anti-spacecraft combat, the Kilrathi launched a spread of Skippers. The cruisers Salisbury and Praetor were destroyed, along with the battleship King George V. Charles Vreeland managed to limp away from the battle and escape the system.
The Kilrathi cruisers closed in on van Oranje’s main force. In an almost suicidal move, both cruisers attacked at their cruising speed, meaning they could not maneuver or evade. Instead, they swept in at 5 PSL, and launched two spreads of Skippers before passing out of range. A majority of the missiles were killed by the patrolling fighters and pickets. However, a number of them broke through and hit their targets. Admiral van Oranje was killed when the Eagle’s Talon exploded. The other carriers were damaged, but still functioning. The TCS Mons and Congress took on the Eagle’s Talon’s fighters and was set to rearm them.
The Kilrathi carriers launched a more conventional attack upon the battered fleet near the Heaven’s Gate jump point. After suffering such damage from the stealth attacks, the fleet began to fall back. There was some hope that reinforcements would jump in, but not before the Kilrathi fighters hit. Ferrets and Rapiers held off many of the fighters, and the heavier Sabers were launched as well. Four destroyers and the cruiser Lunapolis were destroyed and Mons had its flight deck destroyed, forcing surviving fighters to divert to the Congress. With such a bloody mess at their hands, Confed was forced to yield the system to the Kilrathi.
For the most part, the Kilrathi ignored the settlements in the system and set up constructing a supply depot in the system,. Kiev Station would serve as a forward base for the Kilrathi, to resupply its ships as well as its crew. Kilrathi ships jumped into the adjacent Talbot System, and captured it without much of a fight. The Terran fighters in the system were destroyed to the last, as were two corvettes. The three million Terrans living upon Talbot VII were put to work in constructing garrisons and fleet repair facilities for the Kilrathi. Part of the reason the system fell so swiftly, despite its weak garrison, was that the planetary defense network was knocked out. It was disabled by a cell of Mandarins operating on the planet.
Though the massacre at Novaya Kiev did much to hurt Confed, it was far from knocking them out of the fight. After twenty years of war, the shipyards across the Sol Sector were able to produce capital ships faster than the Kilrathi could destroy them. Confed would entrench itself at both Enigma and Heaven’s Gate, focusing its war effort on keeping the Kilrathi from reaching any closer to the Sol Sector. Parts of the Enigma Sector would have to be abandoned while Confed shortened its defensive lines and prepared for its own counterattack.