Thursday, December 9, 2010
Wing Commander reboot, part 27
Battle of Enigma
The biggest battle of the year took place in the strategically vital Enigma System. A dozen jump points lead from across the Sector into Enigma. Enigma also offered almost unopposed movement into the Sol Sector. Just why so many jump points were linked to Enigma is not certain, though the heart of the system might offer a clue. The star Enigma was a B-type star, with little in the way of planets orbiting it– or rather the center of the system. Enigma itself orbited Enigma X-1, a five solar mass black hole. After its former star went supernova, the planets in the system were all but wiped out and blown into interstellar space. What little material that remained was rich in heavy metals, and comprised mostly asteroids and planetoids. The largest body in the system was little bigger (in terms of volume) Luna.
Enigma Junction, located five AU from Enigma X-1, was the administrative center of the sector. It was far larger than any station, and was home to over 100,000 personnel. Due to navigational hazards across the system, most of the traffic between jump points must pass within a few million kilometers of Enigma Junction. The Kilrathi planned to take the Junction by attacking the system from both Niven and Gwynedd. To meet them, Admiral Turner was given seven carriers (most of the carriers in the Sector) and hundreds of fighters. Each of the Kilrathi fleets numbered three carriers.
The Kilrathi’s first move was unexpected. A day ahead of their fleets, a Confed Corvette jumped into the system. It was damaged, including communications. Turner sensed something odd about the corvette. Though it was damaged, there appeared to be nothing wrong with its propulsion. He ordered the battleship Half-moon to intercept the corvette and escort it in. When Half-moon reached the corvette, it detected no emissions aside from the engines. The battleship attempted to dock with the corvette, and board it. When the hull was breached, both battleship and corvette vanished in a bright flash. The corvette was an old corvette the Kilrathi had captured years ago, used it some time as a commerce raider, and packed it with several grams of anti-matter. The plan was to fly it close to Enigma Junction, then blow it. Half-moon’s attempt at boarding set off an anti-tamper alarm.
Fighters were scrambled and sent on a sweep of all the jump points leading into Kilrathi space. The Kilrathi knew the ship exploded, and believed it had completed its mission. Thus, they jumped into the system unprepared for immediate combat. The fleet jumping in from Niven jumped into a patrol of Rapiers and Broadswords. In twenty minutes of combat, one Kilrathi carrier was destroyed and the other two disabled. The second Kilrathi fleet jumped into the system unopposed, and took a dangerous trajectory within a single A.U. of Enigma X-1, and used the black hole to cover their own approach. Confed had not anticipated an attack from the direction of the singularity.
The Kilrathi scored a number of hits on Congress and Concordia, and destroyed the Bengal-class carrier Beacontree as well as crippled the Confederation-class carrier Emperor. The Emperor later succumbed to internal explosions, but not before its remaining fighters were launched. Despite the surprise that half the Kilrathi invasion force had gained, the loss of the other half of the force prevented the Kilrathi from following up on their attack. The strike force did not turn for a second pass, but made for the Niven jump point and the aid of the damaged ships. Along with two carriers and a battleship, Confed lost three cruisers and four destroyers.
The Kilrathi force assembled at the Niven jump point but did not retreat. Nor did it advance. Concerned that the Kilrathi might be waiting for reinforcements, Turner ordered a general attack on the Kilrathi. Not just by fighters and bombers, but by a number of cruisers as well. The Battle for the Jump Point cost Confed another two cruisers, and 35% of its fighters, for the Kilrathi detected its approach well in advance. Despite the losses, the Kilrathi decided to yield the system. The Kilrathi were not waiting for reinforcements, but were in fact in conference, attempting to reformulate their plans for the system. Anti-ship missiles from Sabers and Broadswords struck the carrier on which the conference was held, killing several high ranking officers. Thus, without central command, the Kilrathi were forced to retreat.
Phased Transit Cannon
Since 2657, Confed had been working on a new weapon, in reality a prototype for a future, and far more powerful weapon. The prototype was called the Phased Transit Cannon. The PTC concentrated a great deal of energy into a single beam. It would be like a large annihilation warhead exploding into a narrow beam instead of omni-directional. The PTC was designed to punch through shields and strike at the ship itself. The weapon, when first tested, managed to punch through the shields of a drone, and vaporize the drone with a single shot. R&D insisted that it could take out something as large as a Fralthra with a single shot.
There was a catch; the PTC required a large amount of power. It could only be fired after a lengthy charge, which any Kilrathi ship with descent sensors would detect. Several PTCs were integrated into the new Dreadnaught-class battleship design. While the Congress and Concordia were back in dock for repairs, each had a single PTC installed on their bow. They would have to aim the whole ship, but if the crew could pull it off, both carriers would have more than enough fire power to hold their own in a ship-to-ship engagement.