Friday, December 3, 2010
Wing Commander reboot, part 25
Fall of Rigel
Rigel was one of the few stars outside of the Sol Sector that had its absolute location known. It is a blue giant that forms one corner of the constellation Orion. Being a blue giant, there were no planets capable of supporting life in the Rigel System, but there were a few planets worth mining, as well as ship repair and fabrications facilities in the system. The Kilrathi fell upon the system on their road towards encircling Enigma itself. Confed aimed to defend the fleet facilities, but with the battle continuing in Repleetah, and other fleet actions planned, only three carriers were available to defend the system.
The Kilrathi hit in force with four carriers, along with six cruisers. One of the cruisers was a Strakha equipped Fralthra. The stealth fighters swept in but were thwarted by two squadrons of Epees rushed into service. The cloaked fighters escaped unscathed, with the Epees trailing them to 0.5 AU distance from the fleet. Instead, the Kilrathi would have to rely on a more conventional attack. Their bombers, new Paktahns. These bombers could carry a pair of anti-ship missiles. Some carried conventional missiles to cover the few Skippers that two of the bombers carried. All four of the Skippers hit as Confed defenses focused on the enemies they could see. None of the carriers were destroyed, but a lone destroyed did stray into the path of one Skipper, breaking in half upon impact.
The carrier Raj suffered significant damage, enough to take it out of the war for three years. The other two carriers were forced to pick up Raj’s fighters and act as both fleet defense and defense for the fleet yards in the system. A second Kilrathi attack came the following day, using the same tactic of hiding Skippers within a conventional attack. Again, no carriers were lost, but the cruiser Ceres took a hit, knocking out half of its propulsion. The Kilrathi fleet began to close within gun range. Realizing his position untenable, Admiral Vander ordered the fleet yards to be blown and personnel to evacuated. The Terran fleet withdrew from the wreckage only an hour ahead of the Kilrathi arrival.
Drones of Repleetah
Entering the third year of the battle, over ten million Confed soldiers battled with a nearly equal number of Kilrathi across several fronts, each reminiscent of the trenches of the Great War, fought nearly three thousand years before. Neither side would yield this system, despite its relative unimportance or the cost so far paid. After three years, both sides have lost more than a million men, and both sides were desperate for any way to break the deadlock.
Confed unleashed its largest concentration of combat drones to date; over ten thousand of them scattered across the planet. Dozens of giant drones operated as units, concentrating fire on a hundred Kilrathi strong points. Confederation forces advanced hundreds of kilometers along the front lines of Repleetah, with the drones cutting swaths through the Kilrathi. Half of the drones were eventually destroyed by Kilrathi armor, but not before the Kilrathi were on the run.
Kilrathi commanders were desperate to prevent their own lines from collapsing and sought a means to blunt Confed’s attack. Their weapon of choice was far more insidious. The first indication of this new weapon was when hundreds of Confed soldiers went down without even a shot fired. The weapon was quickly identified as chemical in nature, a neuro-toxin. Confed response immediately with the cheapest chemical weapon they could put into instant use; chlorine. New chemical weapons were soon employed by both sides, and combat environmental suits became a requirement to survive the continuing war on Repleetah.
Bioships of Sheldon
The Kilrathi incursion was not defeated by Confed, but rather a relic from a long dead civilization. The civilization that once spread across the Sheldon System, millions of years ago, used organic technology to create living ships. They did not build ships, but grew them, and eventually moved on to breeding them. When the civilization collapsed, for whatever means, the bioships continued to survive in space. They thrived and began to evolve to make uses of whatever resources they could capture. Competition between ships drove evolution, as it drove an arms race. When the Kilrathi attacked one of the bioships, it responded in kind. Its whole herd fell upon the Kilrathi task force, built around a lone carrier and cruiser, consuming each of the ships. This was one enemy the Kilrathi could not spare the forces to exterminate at the moment, and the system was declared off-limits, protecting Enigma’s flank.
One of Confed’s attacks for the year took it into the Ghorah Khar System. It was a young Kilrathi colony, but a fast growing one. The Imperial Pride controlled the planet and relocated Prides with technical expertise to the planet. Cloaking devices required extremely rare materials for vital components, a rare material that allows for focusing gravity to bend light. Ghorah Khar has the material on its surface in sufficient quantities to justify the expense of colonizing the world. When Confed Intel learned of this material, they went to launch an immediate attack.
In command of the strike was one of the youngest admirals, Admiral Tolwyn, who used the Concordia as his flag. Concordia along with TCS Bishop, escorted by three cruisers and seven destroyers, hit the system in force. Broadswords bombed the planet, sealing the known mines while Sabers destroyed several freighters loaded with the mineral. The amount destroyed or otherwise scattered across space was estimated to have allowed the Kilrathi to build over a thousand Skippers. Secondary targets of the raid included transfer stations in orbit of Ghorah Khar as well as tankers that scooped the resident gas giants for fuel. Tolwyn exited the system before the Kilrathi Navy could respond.
The Kilrah Pride returned to the planet quickly and set up restoring the mines. The Emperor’s total disregard to the colonists’ health and safety served to alienate thousands of previously loyal Kilrathi, including the three largest Prides, each vying for eventual position as planetary Pride. Not trusting slaves at such a vital resource, the Kilrah Pride pressed many of the colonists into remedial and forced labor to keep the mineral flowing from the mines.