Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Battle of the Java Sea
By March of 1941, the Dutch Commonwealth was facing defeat in the East Indies. The Japanese were already in control of the ports on Sumatra and Borneo, and sought to add Java to their Empire, along with the oil fields of the East Indies. The Japanese had spent the previous month pounding away at airfields on Java, and managed to destroy the dry dock facilities in Jakarta. The Commonwealth Navy in that part of the world was not as high as in the Atlantic, where the bulk of the Commonwealth Navy was massed in Brazil, participating in the Battle of the Atlantic. Limited Commonwealth Naval forces were divided between Ceylon and Jakarta, the forces on Formosa being destroyed in 1940.
The Commonwealth fleet, under the command of Admiral Karl Doorman, with his flag on the DCS William IV. Accompanying him, the battlecruiser Tanhausen, the carrier Delft, along with cruisers Java, Delphi, and Flores and five destroyers. Commonwealth carrier doctrine stress air cover over the fleet to allow the big guns to enter range of the enemy. As such, the Delft carried fighters and scout planes, and had no ability to project its power beyond the horizon. This tactic proved effective against Fuhrer Germany, but only because their navy was shriveled since the bulk of the German Imperial Navy supports the Kaiser.
The Japanese Navy, on the other hand, utilized air power in ways that European and American navies had not considered. The Japanese used carrier-based air craft in the Hawaiian Campaign, along with attacks on Formosa and British Luzon. The British Far East fleet was destroyed in Manilla Bay by the Japanese Navy. The Japanese fleet, under the command of Admiral Takeo Takagi, from his flagship the Hiryu. Hiryu was accompanied by the carrier Soryu, along with battleship Yamashiro, cruisers Tone and Takeo along with five destroyers. Behind this fleet was the invasion force of one carrier, four battleships, seven cruisers and a mess of destroyers, along with twelve thousand soldiers.
The Commonwealth fleet maneuvered along the north shore of Java, never moving one hundred kilometers away from the shore, and its additional air cover. The Japanese fleet moved down the Makassar Strait, into attack range on March 16, 1941. At 0500, both Japanese carriers launched a risky night-time attack against the Commonwealth fleet. The fighters and bombers would have returned long after sunrise. Accompanying the attack, two hundred Japanese medium bombers took off from bases on Borneo, and struck diversionary attacks at airbases surrounding Jakarta, cratering the runways. Additional air strikes severely damaged the port, making it virtually impossible, or at the very least impractical for the fleet to make call. It is not known precisely, but is believed that Doorman considered this the main attack of the day, and he ordered half of his fighters to intercept the Betty bombers.
At 0820, the first wave of 10 Japanese torpedo bombers struck at the Commonwealth fleet. Three were downed by anti-aircraft fire, and four more by the remaining air cover. However, the torpedo bombers drew the too few fighters down low, while Japanese dive bombers struck at the fleet. At 0826, the first of the Vals struck the Delft. Minutes later, bombs struck the DCS Tanhausen, knocking out its forward turret. A second attack from above hit the Delft at 0831. This strike knocked out the carrier’s elevators and destroyed the bridge superstructure. A second wave of torpedo bombers homed in on the carrier at 0837, destroying its rudder and rupturing its bow. The end of the Delft did not occur until 0903, after the first Japanese attack had departed, when fires raging through the carrier engulfed an armory, setting off numerous one hundred millimeter anti-aircraft artillery. At 0910, the surviving senior officer ordered abandon ship. A destroyer running along side the carrier during the battle also sunk, as result of taking two torpedoes intended for the Delft.
Doorman now had no choice but to retreat closer to Java, and hope that it had enough fighters to provide air cover. Two destroyers broke from his fleet to rescue survivors of the doomed carrier, while the rest of the fleet steamed towards the southwest. The few fighters that Java managed to get airborne, were outclassed by the Zeros when the second attack arrived at 1411. While the Commonwealth fighters were picked off by the zeros, Kate torpedo bomber homed in on the King William IV, while Vals attacked the battlecruiser. The damaged Tanhausen was hit by four more bombs, the last of which penetrated the aft deck and into the magazine. With one tremendous explosion, the Tanhausen broke two-thirds of the way to its stern at 1418. The rest of the ship sank within ten minutes, with most of the crew on board.
At 1422, torpedoes ripped open the starboard hull of the King William IV, causing the battleship to list severely. Java exploded in a giant fire ball at 1426, and Delphi was crippled by repeated attacks. The Japanese ended their attack at 1431, with two additional destroyers on fire, and the King William IV further damaged by addition bombs. Admiral Doorman was killed during the last bombing run, when the bridge was strafe, and then toppled by a bomb impact below it. The King William IV capsized at 1541. By night fall, when it was clear no further attack was on its way, Captain Hans Vermen of the DCS Flores took command of the fleet, and ordered the survivors of the disastrous battle to be retrieved by night fall. Following sunset, the remainder of the fleet limped eastwards towards Ceylon, since Jakarta’s port facilities were no longer able to take on the ships.
The Battle of the Java Sea was the first naval battle in history were the fleets never actually saw each other. The battle also shattered Commonwealth carrier doctrine, and propelled the Commonwealth to design and produce its own carrier-based bombers and attackers. The battle also allowed the Japanese to land on Java, and occupy Jakarta. Like the other major islands of the archipelago, the Japanese were easily able to control the cities and oil fields, but failed to pacify the rest of the island, though not from lack of effort. The Commonwealth Navy was out of the East Indies for the better part of a year, until the first of the Ernst van Bohr class carriers were launched. Commonwealth ground forces did not return to the islands until 1944.
Monday, October 18, 2010
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.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Status: Critically endangered
The Great Auk once roamed the whole of the North Atlantic, making itself at home in the Grand Principality of Norway, State of Iceland, Greenland, Quebec and the British isles. They are a penguin-like bird, in fact the word penguin is derived from an old Celtic language and was in reference to the Auk, and spend most of their time at sea. It is there, that they are relatively safe. However, they nest on rocky islands across the ocean. The Auk has been hunted by indigenous peoples for millennia, but it was not until a thousand years ago that a wide-scale hunting was enacted. A demand for their down drove the hunting industry. The Little Ice Age (circa 1350 to 1850) also had an impact on their populations. During the 18th Century, collectors began harvesting eggs and taking adult for taxidermy. By 1850, the Auk teetered on extinction. The United Provinces declared hunting the Auk off-limits until their populations rebounded. As is, today, the Great Auk can only be found on a handful of rocky islands off the coasts of Iceland and Greenland. It is estimated that less than five thousand Great Auks still exist in the wild. The United Provinces, along with international wildlife organizations have declared the species to be Critically Endangered. A single disastrous tsunami in the North Atlantic could wipe the species out. The World Wildlife Fund along with Zoos in the U.P., Canada, United States, Sweden and France, have initiated a breeding and reintroduction program for the species.
Status: Extinct in the Wild
Passenger pigeons once flocked across the North American continent in the millions. An estimated two billion were living in the year 1800. One hundred years later, only a handful of these birds remained in the wild. There are two primary reasons for their decline; 1) commercial hunter; 2) habitat destruction. In the eastern United States (and Confederate States at the time), much of the former unbroken forest had been stripped from the landscape and replaced by farmland. Remaining habitats and sanctuaries in Tennessee and Kentucky were torn to pieces by the Great War, and soldiers from both sides poached the birds to augment their poor quality rations. By 1920, there were none left in the wild. The survival of the species ironically depended on the wide-scale commercial hunting operations of the 19th Century. At one point, entire freight cars full of the birds were delivered to market in New Amsterdam, Philadelphia and Boston. The decline in numbers caused some hunter to begin rounding up live pigeons to breed and attempt to domesticate. Domestication has been a mixed success, with almost all of the several million surviving passage pigeons being bred on commercial aviaries for eventual slaughter. A smaller pet market has arisen since the 1950s to offer the captive animals a more comfortable living. It is believed that some birds have escaped from captivity over the years, but no confirmed sightings have been recorded.
Blood of the Eight
With Planck’s Star firmly under Confed control, plans were made for a raid deep into Kilrathi space. In what the Kilrathi call the Trk’Pahn Sector, home to one of the Eight Prides (the Trk’Pahn Pride) sits that Pride’s homeworld. Trk’Pahn was but a single jump from the Varni homeworld, though this jump point was only discovered after their conquest. With this in mind, Confed placed some of the Varni serving in the Confederation Navy (the highest ranking of their species was but a Chief Petty Officer; no commissioned Varni existed in TCN, and none served in the Marines or Army) into the strike force as guides.
Forming the Trk’Pahn Strike Force were three carriers, Cobra’s Fang, Wolfhound and Kipling, escorted by five new strike cruisers. The goal was not the conquest of the planet, for it was too deep in Kilrathi space to support, but rather to upset the Kilrathi balance of power. If one of the Eight suffered a major defeat, Confed Intel believed that it was possible for a small-scale civil war to break out in the Empire as another of the Eight attempts to exploit his neighbor’s disarray. Trk’Pahn was also revealed to be the home of shipyard built into an orbiting asteroid, as well as armored vehicle factories and fighter assembly plants. Destruction of these would hurt the Kilrathi war effort, the same way the destruction of industry across the Vega Sector hurt the Confederation.
In February, the small fleet, under the command of Admiral Winston Turner, one of the more experienced task force commanders, set out from Planck Station. He had been fighting the Kilrathi since the war’s beginning. The fleet slipped into the Trik’Kha System. This system was loosely patrolled by the Kilrathi, and Turner was able to use the time honored tactic of a jaunt above the system’s ellipse, in order to reach the jump point to Trk’Pahn undetected. The trajectory extended flight time in the system to three weeks. It was not until March that they made the jump to Trk’Pahn. Before doing so, a flight of Rapiers swept the jump point of any sensors.
Upon entering the system, the cruiser Sedna destroyed two Pride frigates on picket duty before either could send out a warning. The Ceres-class cruisers were new, and the design unfamiliar to the Kilrathi. Though to humanity, this would send up warning flares, it was not seen as an obvious threat to the Kilrathi. The fleet jumped in and began its approach on Trk’Pahn. Turner waited until his fleet was a mere ten million kilometers from Trk’Pahn and its orbiting asteroid before launching all Rapiers, Raptors and Scimitars, keeping on the Hornets in reserve. The Rapiers gained space superiority around the shipyard, allowing the cruisers to move in and attack. The five cruisers unleashed two volleys of anti-ship missiles, more than enough for the job. Though the asteroid and parts of the superstructure were left intact, the shipyard was in ruins, along with three partially completed destroyers and the hull of a Fralthra.
The Raptors and Scimitars entered the atmosphere of the planet and commenced bombing runs on the fighter plant and tank facilities. The fusion bombs were set to 50 kT and leveled the factories, as well as a good portion of the cities around them. The fighters returned to their ships, rearmed and were launched a second time. They did not return to the planet, but instead eliminated targets of opportunity in orbit of Trk’Pahn, as well as destroying Kilrathi fighters launched from the orbiting station, while the strike force began to move out of the system.
When the fighters were retrieved from their second mission, and after the strike cruisers bombarded the planet on the way out, Turner ordered his fleet towards the Draga jump point at maximum cruising speed. There was some discontent among the Varni serving in the strike force. They wished to land on Trk’Pahn, or at least board the station, and free any of their people who were no doubt held in bondage on the planet. Thoughts of returning to their homeworld were minimal, since its population were long since victims of sacrificial rites.
In the Draga System, Turner’s force did encounter three Kilrathi cruisers hunting for them, as well as fighters from installations in the system. The race across the system was a week long running battle until reaching the jump point for the frontier worlds of the Maginot System. All of his ships returned, though all were damaged to some extent. He lost a total of 15% of his manpower during and following the battle, as well as 21% of his fighters. This was an expensive raid, that did much damage but failed to spark off an inter-Pride war, though the Trk’Pahn Pride lost much face in the eyes of the Eight. However, it did force the Kilrathi to redeploy its assets to areas they previously thought as secure.
Mandarins in TCN
Kilrathi losses had been lighter during the past two years because of a number of spies, some unwilling and even unknowing, within Confed. Many Terrans who escaped Kilrathi clutches were plants. The Kilrathi use a type of personality implant on some of their victims, then release them. With but a code word that could be passed along by a Mandarin, the implanted personality can take over from time to time, sending information along to the Kilrathi. After the deed is done, the natural personality returns, having no memory of the crime. One such plant made an attempt on the life of Admiral van Oranje in May of 2649, but was killed by guards before more can learned. The Admiral escaped with tissue damage to his shoulder.
Some of the Kilrathi’s agents were willing. The Mandarins believed the Kilrathi could be brought down only from within their own society. To resist them would cause countless billions to die. The fact that Earth would be sacrificed to Sivar in the event of Kilrathi victory did not mean much to them. The homeworld was only a medium populated planet with little industrial value on its surface. Some just hated Confed and Earth for meddling in their affairs.
Sabotage was also becoming a problem. Confed Intel routinely sweeps their ships for plants or Mandarins. The later were easy enough to catch but the former had commands implanted in their head, ordering them to kill themselves rather than fall into enemy hands. In the civilian sector, sabotage took its toll in 2649, slowing down the production of fighters and one event at the Trojan Four yards (at the Jupiter-Sol L4 point), caused a set back in Confed’s new fast carrier prototype, that was slated to be deployed by the end of the year. The damage was repaired, but its launch was delayed until next year. Mandarins also launched propaganda attacks across the Sol Sector, with many The End is Near broadcasts. Kilrathi Prides defecting was taken for granted, but the thought of Terrans defecting– which was once considered laughable– now concerned the Confederation government as well as its armed forces.
Short of Breath
By December of 2649, both sides of the war were wearing down in the Vega Sector. Both sides found themselves overextended, and the Kilrathi began to pull back to fortify more crucial systems, such as Venice, Cairo and Munro. Kilrathi fleets were made smaller, faster and able to ride out the war of attrition. Instead of a definitive line, the front became blurred with small task forces operating on either side of the official line.
The orangutan is a great ape that is found only on the island of Sumatra. They were found on Borneo as recently as 1940, but deforestation and poaching eliminated that population. On the less populated island of Sumatra, it is estimated that some 60,000 orangutan still live in the wild. Large portions of the island have been declared nature preserves, but those that have not are under increasing exploitation. Clear cutting is destroying much of the forest and the species native to Sumatra. The apes are also under threat of poaching by both the exotic pet trade in East Asia as well as for medical laboratories. Their proximity in relation to humans makes them one of the prime choices to conduct medical research upon.
Sunday, October 3, 2010
The Way of Sivar
For the Kilrathi, the downturn in the war was not just about new weapons and Terran tactics. Many of the Kilrathi priests, at least those of Imperial or Eight Prides, believed that their own people’s lack of dedication, and the anger of Sivar. In order to appease their War God, the High Priests have decided that another sacrifice was in order. The Emperor forbad the sacrificing of any world still under Kilrathi domination, not wanting to waste the useful population. With the bulk of Confed forces in the central and coreward regions of the Sector, the High Priests chose the Tamayo System to be its sacrificial altar, and Tamayo II to be its victim.
The Kilrathi built up a strike fleet around three carriers, five cruisers and twelve destroyers. Following behind them would be every available Kilrathi soldier in the sector. To appease Sivar, they must slaughter the inhabitants of the planet. Normally, such ceremonies would be performed on the homeworld of the Kilrathi’s victims, but the Kilrathi were still a long ways from Earth. The Way of Sivar will allow each Kilrathi warrior to show his own dedication to Sivar. However, there was a flaw in the ceremony, one that Confed learned from refugee Prides. Pride females never take part in such events, for they kill only in defense. However, those who were persecuted by the stronger Prides reveal that to be killed during the Way of Sivar was a grievous dishonor of the warrior in the eyes of Sivar, and if attacked during the ceremony, it was one of the few times a Kilrathi would willingly run from a fight. At least that way, they would have a chance to redeem themselves.
Confed hoped to do more than turn away this attack on Tamayo. They were also aware of the number of transports headed into the system, and Kilrathi were far easier to kill in space than on the ground. Waiting for the Kilrathi to enter the system, a Confed fleet in orbit of Tamayo I consisted of the carriers Kipling and Finback, seven cruisers and the newest of the four (now three remaining) arsenal ships, the TCS Last Judgement. The arsenal ship would remain behind while the Kilrathi fleet was dispatched. Only after would it be allowed to unleash its full firepower on the flotilla of Kilrathi soldiers.
Given the orbital alignment at the time, the Confed fleet came out from around Tamayo, obscured by the star’s radiation. When they reached Tamayo II, the Kilrathi were in the process of landing. It was the perfect time to strike, since the warships could not simply flee. However, due to their religious ceremony, the Kilrathi were overly cautious and did not fight even half as hard as normally. The two Confed carriers were more than a match for the three Snakiers. The Kilrathi put up only token resistance before ships began to retreat on their own. Discipline broke down and the Kilrathi began to behave individualistically. This allowed for seven of their Ralathas to be destroyed and a Fralthi badly mauled.
Dozens of transports were destroyed in the atmosphere, and more on the ground. For the first time in the war, Kilrathi soldiers willingly surrendered, rather than be killed on such a holy event. Confederation Army units took captives, but the planetary militia did not. Knowing the Kilrathi were on their way to kill everybody on the planet, the militia showed no quarter and killed all Kilrathi they came across. Those that surrendered to Confed were immediately shipped off-world.
On the other side of the Sector, Confed pushed into the Planck’s Star System. The system was strategically vital for an operation planned for 2649, and securing the space was of utmost importance. Taking planets was only secondary. With a majority of both side’s navies engaged in a sort of trench warfare in the space of the Munro System, the invasion of Planck’s Star was another small operation. Leading the strike force were the strike carriers Bengal and Eagle’s Talon and battleship Ho Chi Minh. The Kilrathi resisted with a cruiser strike force, built around one of the new Fralthras.
The space battle was short, and cost the Kilrathi much of their fighter cover. However, Confed failed to destroy a single Kilrathi warship, and they were able to retreat, damaged, but still functional. The ease of which the Kilrathi yielded the battlefield made the Confed commander nervous and paranoid. An assault on Planck Station, the Kilrathi headquarters for the system, proved to be far harder than the fleet engagement. Once the station was boarded, ten thousand Marines battled five thousand Kilrathi for control over it. The battle for the station lasted over a month, with nearly all the Kilrathi soldiers dead, and two thousand Terrans as well. Though the Kilrathi could not destroy the base, for its reactor was under Confed control on the first day, they did fry its computers and destroy all information that might have been useful. Thus, with 20% losses and a month’s worth of fighting, Confed was left with a disabled star base.
Planck Station took a full six months to repair and put back into operation. By November of the year, Marines were sortieing to the worlds of Planck’s Star, fighting to dislodge the Kilrathi. During the time of repair, the Kilrathi Navy returned on three separate occasions, and failed to achieve a victory of any kind, much less a decisive one. The Bengal was damaged during one attack, and two old Belgrade-class cruisers were destroyed during the second attack, at a cost of two Kilrathi cruisers. Not a fair trade when considering the age of the Confed ships destroyed. By the end of the year, all the jump points were heavily mined, and fortresses were in place to prevent the Kilrathi from taking back the planet with anything less than a fleet action.
With new Kilrathi cruisers in place and packing the firepower of a battleship, Confed initiated its own cruiser building program. The Ceres-class cruisers would not be as powerful as a battleship, but would have the same strength of shields as a pre-war battleship. These strike cruisers were designed to ride shotgun with the strike cruisers into enemy territory. They would also have hanger space enough for a full squadron of fighters. With these new ships coming on line, the old Belgrades would be pulled off frontline duty and placed in convoy and patrol roles.
VOC in the Vega Sector
The VOC (United East India Company) played its own role in the war effort. Aside from being the largest supplier of hydrogen, and the scoop ships that bring it out of gas giants, the VOC also armed its ships. Freighters had sufficient firepower to turn back Kilrathi fighters, while the VOC’s private frigates served as escorts for the company’s own shipping, as well as its competition. This escort service freed up TCN ships for the front line. The VOC, a three thousand year old shipping company also transported tens of thousands of Marines and soldiers to battlefields across the Vega Sector. Aside from this, they also operated shipyards and repair docks across the Enigma and Sol Sector. Vega Sector was not their normal zone of operations, however high demands of the war brought them into the sector, including the construction of a new repair and construction facility in the Vega System itself. VOC Yards turned out new transports faster than the Kilrathi could destroy them.
Status: Critically Endangered
Unknown to science before the end of the 19th Century, the Gorilla is now the rarest ape on the planet. In Central Africa, civil war and poaching all but wiped out the Mountain Gorilla, which has not been seen in the wild since 1984, though over 400 still exist in captivity. In West Africa, the population hovers around 2000, in enclaves in Biafra. However, the bushmeat trade and logging threatens their remaining habitat. World Powers have their own captive breeding programs in order to ensure the gorilla’s survival. Some proposals have been introduced to relocate the surviving gorillas to a more stable country, possibly even to another continent.