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Death Ride of the 78th Tactical
noodle
"How did they-"

"Know we were going to be here? I'd say they tracked the emissions of one of the damaged ships, probably the Cortania. NOBODY could have missed the radiation she was putting out."

"Damn. What are our options?"

"Not good. CAP is mopping up the last of their outer picket now, but sensors report multiple enemy battle groups, make it 2 Battle Barges per group. And in about 3 minutes they'll be all over us."

"Alright then. Bring the Task Group back up to combat alert. Scramble everything we have."

"Everything sir?"

"EVERYTHING. If it can fly and has a weapon, I want it in action. Judging by their formation and our own distribution, we don't have room for any fancy tricks this time. We'll just have to go all out. Strike craft in front, all of them. Reserves aren't going to do us any good now."

"You know none of those pilots are likely to survive the first pass sir."

"Aye. But hell, none of us are likely to survive this, now are we? All we can do is inflict as much damage as we can. Who knows, maybe we'll hurt them enough to justify the loss of an entire task group."

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Throughout the fleet a sort of organized panic takes hold. Personnel who just hours before had been in the midst of the largest route the Hiigaran Navy had experienced since the Invasion. An organized Vaygr fleet of unprecedented size, so large that it could dispatch multiple Battle Barge task groups afterwards to hunt down survivors, had attacked the major HGN fleet base at Solo.

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With a fleet that size, the Vaygr Matriarch hadn't needed to bother with weeks of scouting, probing attacks, or any other form of information gathering, even if her target was one of the largest HGN fleet hubs in all of the eastern theater. And so she hadn't. Nor had she taken any steps to establish a well thought out order of battle. Doing so would have maximized her fighting power and minimized losses. But than again, with a fleet that size, and attacking a target so well fortified, losses would be taken, and no matter how heavy, would be easily soaked up by her forces.

The HGN wasn't prepared for such an attack. That might seem odd, considering Solo was such an important asset. But the truth is, they weren't prepared BECAUSE it was such an important and well fortified location. No one would ever attempt an assault on such a location, not with so many ships stationed there, the pickets and sensor nets scattered throughout the system, the literal walls of manned and unmanned turrets, not to mention multiple nearby Task Forces waiting to hyper in at the first call for aid.

And all of those defenses had done their jobs. The sensor nets and recon pickets had detected the massive fleet, reported it in and than fled. Except what they had seen wasn't the whole fleet. Long after they had retreated beyond sensor range of the outer fringe of the Solo defense perimeter Vaygr ships were still arriving, wave after wave, carrier after carrier.

The weapons platforms and stationary fortress's had inflicted massive losses. The mine fields, some of them 70 and 80 years old, having been planted in the Beast Wars era, wiped away whole formations. The skirmish detachments attacked the advancing Armada time and time again, taking out dozens, scores of enemy frigates and hundreds of fighters; one particularly daring raid even managing to take out a destroyer and crippling two more, along with a good chunk of a carrier that was strutting about to close to the front of the Vaygr formation.

Not that it mattered. Oh sure, the substantial on-station forces of the HGN had plenty of time to organize and ready themselves; the Vaygr seemed in no hurry as they slowly advanced, wiping away anything that got in their way. The Hiigarans called in heavy reinforcements and reserves, bolstering their ranks. Every ship withing 500 light years, of every conceivable class and age was called in, with more groups from further out already on their way by the time the Loyalist front runners came into contact with the main HGN forces.

One such group was the 78th Tactical, called in from a system some 800 LY's from Solo. The fabled 'Wraiths of Sajuuk', who had distinguished themselves in the Invasion era and continued to do so in the 10 years since. Elements of this formation had been involved in every imaginable op, from escort to raids to all out multi-fleet sized engagements. And yet nothing could prepare them for the carnage of the Battle of Solo.

But that infamous action is reported in depth elsewhere, suffice it to say that the Fleet Base was thoroughly destroyed, most of the defending forces blow to bits or crippled and captured. Still, given the sheer number of Hyper-capable ships involved, it was inevitable that a substantial number of HGN vessels would escape, many of them carriers that managed to recover most of the battered and butchered remains of their fighter wings and corvettes. Not that there was much left to recover.

The Hiigaran navy had planned for just such an event, however unlikely it might have seemed to the planners at the time. Should Solo ever fall, surviving forces were instructed to escape and regroup at any of a dozen or more rendezvous locations, many of them random deep space coordinates with nothing of value for light weeks in all directions.

And yet the Vaygr somehow found them. Whether through tracking of ships that had been bugged with internal or external tracking devices (indeed, I said internal, for there had been more than a few boarding actions at Solo, something almost unheard of since the Invasion-era) or by tracking the leakage and emissions of the most badly damaged ships, some of them with their reactors actually exposed to space through virtual windows blasted into their hulls.

And maybe they had already been in wait at some of those 'secret' rendezvous spots. Perhaps their had been some severe security breach. This is all speculation, for all information pertaining to security breaches and oversights is, of course, classified.

Regardless of the reason or cause that enabled them to do so, the Vaygr were waiting for the 78th Tactical. The 78th's designated regroup location was a Progenitor relic, the shattered remains of what may have once been a mighty ship. The location was chosen for the intense radiation that permeated the region, masking all ships within, even the largest, from any long-range scans and in-hyper surveys. Research reports indicated that it seemed to originate from something not unlike a modern Capital Ships primary reactor in basic design, but so far more advanced that it makes even the largest and most advanced 5g ship's power source look like a battery for a child's toy.

And now we return at last to where this tale began: in the corridors of the handful of vessels that were the remnants of the once famous and mighty 78th Tactical Strategic Operations Group, 5th Fleet, HGN.

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"-epeat, all personnel to battle stations, prepare for immediate enemy contact. Condition One, I say again, Condition One throughout the ship. All hands report to battle stations. This is not a drill."

Many wondered why the Second in Command even bothered to add that last part. What captain in his right mind would order a drill now, after they had just escaped from Hell. Except they hadn't escaped had they? They were going back in. And this time, they all knew, they wouldn't be coming back out again.

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On what was left of the flight deck of HGN Cortania, the CAG was giving her pilots their final orders. There were only 19 left, herself included.

"No finesse to this one, we're going in with everything we have, scouts included. No order of battle has been specified, we don't have time and it probably wouldn't do us any good anyway. Just get out of that bay as fast as you can and then punch it to max. Try to get in close as quick as possible, I have a feeling there's going to be a shitload of missiles flying around, do whatever it takes to avoid getting locked.

"Bombers should concentrate on frigates and slow moving corvettes, stuff you know you can hit and that won't take long to take out. We don't have the forces, time, or ammo for the larger ships. Dog fighters do your best to cover the slower ships, corvettes same. If anyone gets the chance, see if you can take a few turrets or subsystems out on the big hitters, will make our big boys jobs a little easier.

"Well, guess thats about it. See you all on the flip side". She didn't say it with much confidence though...

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"I don't care what you have to do, just get that damn turret back online!"

The Captain of the tiny, yet powerful ship which a few years ago would have been called a Tulwar, but which the newest brass now insisted on calling a 'Heavy DEW Destroyer', closed the comlink with engineering with an angry press of the button. Not that he was really mad at his chief engineer, or any of his crew for that matter. No, it was simply the anger of a man who knows he's about to die, and all he desires is to take as many of his hated foe with him as possible. And he needed his 3rd turret operational in order to best ensure he did just that. At least all of his ships main DEW's still worked...

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The Hiigaran BGE 'Nienor' was probably the most well off ship in what was left of the 78th. She was certainly more combat capable than her sister Battlecruiser. 'Fearless' was a sad, broken shadow of her once mighty self. Her entire port side armament was down, half of it, including the entire PDS grid, burned out or mangled, the other half, chiefly the heavy weapons mounts, was simply gone, blasted away.

She still had 57% pressurization though, and despite the massive damage it had taken, her armor was still (mostly) intact, at least in the most critical places. Though in some cases it was down to the final armor layer, nothing important of the vital internal systems had been damaged. Though that would undoubtedly change very soon...

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The Task Group still had a few of those ever so handy one shot turret platforms, having kept them in storage since Solo certainly hadn't lacked them for it's defense. Deploying them there would simply have added more clutter and limited maneuvering room, considering how fragile they were and the limited amount of additional punch they really added, the trade off hadn't been worth it. And so they had stayed in their motherships for the entirety of that battle.

Now however, things were very different. While they would add to the navigational problems of the already cramped battlefield, littered as it was with both Progenitor debris and the remains of both Loyalist and HGN ships from earlier ambushes, the 78th not being the first Hiigaran group to arrive at this "safe-house".

But no one expected them to live long anyway, and each of the Ion platforms added an entire Tulwars worth of main batteries to the Hiigarans firepower, and the ballistic turrets weren't to shabby either.

At the very least they might buy the Task Group a time, however little. And so they were pulled from storage and sent on their way. Right behind them, indeed, so close as to be in complete violation of all safety protocols, came the strike craft, few as they were. Forming up into loose groups they began their charge almost as soon as they were were out of their bays. Straight towards the mass of Vaygr fighters they flew, all kinds of ships, from battered, vastly outdated Blade interceptors to the latest LSF's. There was even a pair of Avenger scouts, heading for combat they were never intended to see.

Behind them came the vastly more powerful upscaled Strategic Interceptors, followed by corvettes of every make and model.

The Frigates came next, mostly Torpedo boats but also Ion Cannon frigates, a design only recently reinstated. There was even a poorly armed EW ship, screeching it's jamming and counter-jamming, even though it would be of little help.

And lastly the big hitters, the capital ships. The Light Cruisers that made up the core of the (in)famous Hiigaran fast strike capability, followed by the various classes of the aging but still viable Arbiter hull, and finally the pride of the 78th, the two BCE's.

And in the back, behind this normally formidable, now, in comparison to that of it's foe, pitifully inadequate, screen came the Carriers and the core of the 78th, the mobile Fortress/Shipyard. Even these elements that would normally avoid direct combat were committed.

And thus began the Death Ride of the Wraiths of Sajuuk.
noodle attached the following image:
deathcharge1.jpg

Edited by noodle on 14-01-2008 06:14
Haruhi is my God(dess).
 
TelQuessir
Wow just wow ths is the best fanfic I've seen in quite a while and the pic is awesome too. Star Wars anyone?
 
noodle
Yeah, My frame rate was down to about 5 throughout the whole battle, about all I could do was take pictures. Me thinks the designers never intended the engine to be used like this...

I'll add the next chapter soon. Oh, in case anyone harbors any hopes otherwise, it doesn't end with a miraculous arrival of HGN re-enforcements.

PROTIP: Everyone DIES. It's like 300 in space. Still, gonna be one hell of last stand...maybe they even take a Battle Barge with them?

And now....some smiley's fencing!

Fencing

Haruhi is my God(dess).
 
noodle
Despite the Hiigarans expectations, their strike craft weren't totally annihilated within minutes. Most likely the Vaygr weren't prepared for the sudden, unorganized charge that they suddenly found themselves faced with. After all, traditional HGN tactics had always revolved around doing everything possible to minimize losses, to maximize firepower, to give every fleet element the best chance of survival.

One would have expected them to attempt to retreat, use their more mobile units to run interference, slow down the enemy onslaught while the larger, slower vessels tried to get far enough away from the intense radiation of the Progenitor debris and Vaygr inhibitors to hyper out to safety. The odds of them succeeding weren't very high, but there was still a slim chance some ships might escape.

And yet, they did the exact opposite, abandoning all rationale and sense, instead rushing straight toward their foe. And this was something the Vaygr had not expected, for indeed it was more alike to something they themselves would do.

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"-ah shit!"

"Incoming, multiple hi-speed contacts."

"I'm locked, God, I'm loc-"

"Crap, my targeting is down, something must've been jarred loose."

"Anybody see anything, my screens useless."

"Negative, my screens down to, to much fucking jamming going on."

"Doesn't matter, forget about your computers, just gonna have to do it the old fashioned way."

"Blue Wing, be advis-*pzzt*-ultiple bogies inbound on dir-*zzzt*-ine intercept with you. CIC thinks th-*bzzzzt*-ighspeed fighters. ETA 15 seconds."

"Alright, all pilots form up on me. We're going in."

i53.photobucket.com/albums/g73/BigBlue42/Death%20Charge%2078th/deathcharge2.jpg

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"The front runners have made contact sir."

"Losses so far?"

"Minor." The Lieutenant couldn't hide the surprise in his voice.

"Heh." The Captain managed to hide the shock in his own response.

"Well, whoever is in charge over their just wasted his best chance to wipe out our small craft capability. Maybe they weren't expecting us to attack them like this."

His gaze never left the holo-tank as the swarms of red and green dots merged together into one hell of a furball.

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"Got one on my six, can't shake him!"

"Roger that Green 2, on my way."

"Damn, they're everywhere!"

"Check fire, check fire! There are friendlies out here!"

"Got a lock!"

"All units be advised; additional Vaygr heavy fighters are joining the battle."

"Well isn't that just great?"

"Cut the chatter, enough noise to keep track of alrea-"

"This is Green 7, I'm setting up to make a run at two bombers."

"Roger 7, I see them. I'll help out."

"Dumb bastards shoulda stayed further behind."

"Multiple bogies incoming from 257."

"Shit, to many!"

"This is Big Gun. Looks like you boys could use a hand."

"Bout time you showed up! Where the hell you been?"

"We figured we'd take it slow, let you guys shake 'em up a bit first."

"Oh yeah thanks!"

"Heavy fighters inbound!"

"Roger that, we got them. TAC be advised, Heavy Corvettes engaging...now."

i53.photobucket.com/albums/g73/BigBlue42/Death%20Charge%2078th/deathcharge4.jpg

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"TAC this is Bomber Wing Alpha, requesting Sit-Rep on enemy light capital units."

"Standby Alpha..."

"..."

"TAC, Alpha requesting Sit-Rep."

"...roger Alpha. Enemy light-capitals will be entering the outer limits of the battle in 20 seconds. Be aware that all fighter and corvette elements are already heavily engaged. They may not be able to provide support."

"Roger TAC. Bomb Wing Alpha is ETA 30 seconds to targets."

i53.photobucket.com/albums/g73/BigBlue42/Death%20Charge%2078th/deathcharge46.jpg

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Though they have gone through many changes and upgrades over the last 10 years, and expanded to better fulfill many different roles, many Vaygr 'frigates' (an increasingly dated and inaccurate title) still carry at least a semblance of their original armament. Including the eternally feared "space knives"; small shards of razor sharp metal rapid fired at high speed. Though crude, these weapons have little trouble shredding even the most advanced of enemy fighters.

And although corvette armor can shrug off most individual hits from such weapons, the Vaygr like to use frigates. A LOT of frigates...

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"Smoked another one!"

"These guys aren't the best pilots around are they?"

"Don't get cocky, lot more where those came fro-"

"ALL WINGS BE ADVISED! Enemy light-capital ships have entered the battle. TAC suspects they are armed with heavy anti-fighter weaponry."

"Oh shi-"

"Roger Control, I can confirm they have Anti-SC weapo-FUCK!"

"Incoming! Incoming!"

"Sods have close range missiles!"

"Damn, knife clipped my stabilizer!"

"Number two engine is down."

"He's got a lock on me!"

"Break break!"

"Control they're ripping us to pieces here, where is our bomber support!?"

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"Attention all strike-craft, Bomber Wings Alpha and Beta are incoming. ETA 10 seconds."

10 seconds isn't a long time. But in a close-in dogfight in which only one sides heavy ships have shown up, it might as well be a hundred years.

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"Entering range of targets in 5 seconds."

"Roger, weapons free, all bombers pick your targets."

"CONTACT!"

"Open fire!"

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"What's the status on that turret?"

"Still not ready sir."

"Well you're obviously not trying hard enough!"

"Sir I-"

"No excuses! We'll be in weapons range in 90 seconds. Given the number of fast movers out there we're going to need all our turrets."

"Yessir!"

i53.photobucket.com/albums/g73/BigBlue42/Death%20Charge%2078th/deathcharge48.jpg

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"Bombers have entered the battle. 30% losses on their first pass."

"Can't the other strike craft provide support?"

"They're doing what they can, but they already have their hands full."

"I see. Time till our light-caps engage?"

"1 minute 15 seconds sir."

"Not going to be soon enough..."

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"Brute lead, my screens near useless, but I think we have company..."

"Roger Green 5. Control, status on enemy heavies?"

"Heavies are still 45 seconds out."

"That's funny Control, because my eyes are telling me different."

i53.photobucket.com/albums/g73/BigBlue42/Death%20Charge%2078th/deathcharge13.jpg

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"Strike-craft report that enemy Heavy Capital ships have entered the battle sir."

"What? Our light-cap elements haven't even engaged yet!"

"Sir! CIC confirms enemy Capital ships!"

"Damn. Do we have anything left we can use to slow them down?"

"Um...our Strategic Interceptors are currently engaging enemy heavy corvettes. I think we might be able to redirect Orange flight though."

"Do it. And tell them not to worry about ammo conservation."

"Aye sir."

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"-nemy capitals. CO says not to worry about ammo."

"Copy control. Orange flight moving to engage."

"TAC is sending best time course to your screen. Standby."

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While the plot was indeed a 'best time to target' course, it wasn't a safe one. Partly this was do to the sheer amount of destruction being thrown about, but it was also due to the 78th's computers being completely overworked. There was simply to much data for even a Shipyard grade system to handle, not without substantial logistical support. The powerful computers of the carriers and BCE's did what they could to help, but it wasn't enough. Those systems would be needed for local fire-control, especially those of Fearless, which would have to make due with only 50% of her PDS.

All that mattered to Orange flight though, was that the course TAC had provided took them straight through the overlapping fields of fire of numerous Loyalist flak cannons.

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"Big 3! Big 3, get out of there now!"

"I'm trying, I ca-*bzzt*"

"Dammit! Alright, TAC, I'm flagging sector...321 by 145 a no go zone. Repeat, 321 by 145 is a NO GO ZONE! To much damn flak."

"Big leader we have a problem."

"What is it 2?"

"Orange flight is heading straight for the no go zone!"

i53.photobucket.com/albums/g73/BigBlue42/Death%20Charge%2078th/deathcharge5.jpg


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"Sir, Orange 6 reports that they've made contact with enemy heavy capital ships, but..."

"But what?"

"There's only 2 of them left. Orange lead is gone as well."

"Sir! Sensors are picking up massive energy signatures, believed to be enemy Battle Barges. 2 minutes until the first pair enter weapons range of the battle."

"Sajuuk, when did the Vaygr get so fast? ETA on our own light-capitals?"

"20 seconds until our Bloodhounds and Tulwars are in range."

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"Captain! This is engineering, the turret is back on line!"

"Good job Chief, not a second to soon. Have your men standby, contact in 15."

The captain turned to his weapons officer.

"What's our nearest bet?"

"There's an enemy battle carrier, range 6500. Looks like it's causing our pilots a lot of trouble."

"Well then, lets see what we can do about it then shall we? Helm, plot a course."

"Aye sir."

i53.photobucket.com/albums/g73/BigBlue42/Death%20Charge%2078th/deathcharge17.jpg

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Edited by noodle on 15-01-2008 20:16
Haruhi is my God(dess).
 
TelQuessir
My god this really makes me want to play PDS the moment i get back to work. The dialogues are immersive and the transition between first contact to full out fleet battle is perfectly smooth. I will write something in reply to you soonest!
 
noodle
For anyone who cares, the first chapters opening dialog was almost completely ripped off from the first Halo game (hehehe...HGN Cortania...) and much of the way I imagine the battle playing out has more than a little of David Weber's influence in it. This'll become more apparent once the bigger ships finally get involved. Also a lot of the back and forth between the pilots and TAC/Control is inspired by the BRILLIANT battle chatter in Call of Duty 4.
Haruhi is my God(dess).
 
noodle
The CIC of a full-sized capital ship is a quiet place.

While it would still be consider small and cramped by any other standard, from a military point of view it's spacious.

The low murmur of dozens of people going about their jobs fills the air. The low hum and slight vibration of the massive engines is always present. At any other time the room would be well lit, but now it is mostly dark, only the warm glow of low-power battle lights and the bright screens of dozens of monitors and stations providing illumination. Even now, as their ship heads toward it's doom, a cold professionalism radiates from the various officers and ratings. If they are going to die anyway, then their's no point in at least pretending it was like any other battle.

Perhaps it is because of the sheer size of a front-line capital ship, the armor so massive and thick that even the most devastating blow feels like little more than a minor vibration in CIC, located deep inside the vessel. One instinctively feels safe here, even if you know that in reality every enemy in the nearby space is gunning for you, throwing so much at you that even your ships massive strength won't protect you forever.

The CIC of a full-sized capital ship is a quiet place.

The control deck of a front line frigate, however, is not.

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"Enemy bombers at 2-7-8!"

"Point-defense turrets have them."

"Check target...confirmed."

"The carrier is turning to present her port side armor to us, sir."

"That's not going to help her for long, guns!"

"Main battery is ready to go, sir!"

"Let 'em have it."

i53.photobucket.com/albums/g73/BigBlue42/Death%20Charge%2078th/deathcharge44.jpg

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Moments after the last of the strike-craft had launched from the Hiigaran carriers, a lone Corvette left the bay of the Assault Carrier HGN 'Gryphon'.

Why this ship, a relic of the Invasion era, was inboard no one could guess. Maybe it had been intended for use in the defense of Solo. Maybe it was meant for some other operation. Or maybe it had simply been forgotten, abandoned in some far off corner of the boat bay.

Underpowered, under protected, with thin, archaic armor and no point-defense of any kind, and armed with only a single underside mounted turret, this ship had no place in modern naval combat.

And yet it was launched all the same, though for an entirely different task
than those of it's modern cousins. And slowly and methodically it traversed the battle field, going about it's job, confident in not falling victim to enemy fire simply because so outdated and, seemingly, useless was it that it ranked low on Vaygr target lists, assume it was even on them at all.

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Elsewhere, from the Vaygr formations, small groups of frigates approached the massive battle. Though not considered as useless as the Hiigaran corvette, these ships were seldom seen in any major modern naval engagement. But they were determined to make themselves know in this one...

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"Oh cra-SIR!"

"What is it?"

"I'm picking up an enemy Heavy Cruiser. She's heading straight for us."

"Shit, how about the carrier?"

"Here armors a mess sir, and I think we must have knocked out her attitude control, she's starting to enter into a spin."

"Sir, the Torpedo Boat Prometheus is hailing us, they say they and the Minorca will finish off the carrier for us, we can try our luck with the cruiser."

"How thoughtful of them. Alright, helm plot us a new course, try to keep us away from that things beams."

"Aye sir."

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The Vaygr Heavy Cruiser moved through the battle with virtual impunity, it's turret and smaller beam weapons swatting away fighters and corvettes like they were so many insects. She had just finished vaporizing another Hiigaran flak frigate when 3 destroyer grade Ion beams slammed into her hull. An HGN Tulwar was off her bow side, weaving madly and taking advantage of it's speed to avoid the powerful beam weapons of it's larger foe, weapons that easily massed half-as much as herself. Foolish. All one had to do was analyze the Hiigarans maneuvering, find the pattern, compensate for it, and...

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"Direct hit!"

"All the turrets except 3 are gone!"

"Main weapons are down!"

"Reactor going into emergency shutdown!"

"Shit, we're dead in the water."

"Do we still have sensors?"

"Short range only. The enemy cruiser is moving in..."

"Guess this is it then..."

"Their firing!"

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Just before the Loyalist cruiser opened up however, the HGN Light Cruiser 'Nike' swooped in between it and the crippled Tulwar. Though not designed for direct combat against such a heavy foe, her armor still took the hits in stride. The frigates time to shine was over. The big guns had finally arrived.

i53.photobucket.com/albums/g73/BigBlue42/Death%20Charge%2078th/deathcharge30.jpg

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"Our light cruisers have engaged the enemy. The Arbiters are right behind them."

"Good. Now maybe we can start getting some hits on their heavier ships."

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The small groups of fast moving frigates skimmed the outskirts of the battle, bidding their time. Their choice targets would be along shortly.

Elsewhere in the Vayrg fleet, final authorization was given, codes were entered, and missiles were launched.

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Aboard the HGN Battle Frigate 'Kippor'

"Can't you do anything to clear up this display?"

"Sorry sir, I'm doing my best, but there's just to much jamming going on."

Elsewhere in the tiny CIC, voices of various pitches and states of calm talked back and forth, doing their best to most effectively make use of the many weapons the 'workhorse' of the fleet carries:

"-ing at 342, battery two locked."

"-oger. Fast-movers confirmed on vector 3. Tubes loaded wit-"

"Copy TAC, will provide suppressing flak to cover Bomb Wing Gamma."

"DEW destroyer off the port side. To far out to engage effectively; transmitting location and target data to nearest Ion Cannon elements..."

"EW frigate 'Watchbird' reports they'll be in range to provide support in 15 seconds."

"Finally, maybe they'll be able to clear my screen."

"Captain, TAC says enemy Battle Barges are entering the battle in 30 seconds, says to try and stay clear of them."

"Like we would stupid enough to try and take on one of tho-"

Suddenly, as the Hiigaran EW frigate reaches close enough range to support her sensors, and at long last the constant interference and jamming is swept away enough for her to see smaller targets and receive more refined data, the Bloodhound sensor's officer's eyes widen with horror.

"NUKE! ENEMY NUKE INBOUND!"

All other chatter ceases instantly.

"Helm! Full power, get us out of here!"

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Unlike how many think of it, a Nuke is not the end all, be all of weapons. At least not in space warfare. Most of what makes a nuclear bomb, and indeed any explosive device, so powerful is not the heat and energy of the explosion itself. While it will indeed vaporize anything at ground zero, the real damage, the force that flattens cities, is the massive pressure wave that travels from the site of the explosion outward, destroying all in it's path.

While devastating in planetary warfare, a nuke's effectiveness is vastly decreased in space due to the lack of any atmosphere for a shock wave to travel in. This is somewhat compensated due to the fact that space-grade nuclear munitions are almost always of massive yield, the smallest seldom being less than 100 megatons.

But still, even the largest of nukes can only do so much damage without an atmosphere to channel its power through. This is the only thing that saved the Kippor from total annihilation when the 250 megaton missile detonated barely 1500m behind her.

i53.photobucket.com/albums/g73/BigBlue42/Death%20Charge%2078th/deathcharge16.jpg

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The Arbiter-class Destroyer 'Grendalsbane' however, was not so fortunate.

Though smaller, only 120 mega-tons, the nuke that targeted her didn't miss. A modern warship, especially one intended for close range "dogfighting" with other capital-ships like the Grendelsbane, is designed
to take massive amounts of punishment, even from nuclear-grade attacks.

Thus, though devastating, the nuclear explosion didn't succeed in killing her, at least not right away. But what an offensive nuclear reaction started, a docile one meant for simple power generation finished. As her safeties and backups failed, her reactors mag-bottles let go, and within 10 seconds her entire aft section simply vanished into a miniature sun.

i53.photobucket.com/albums/g73/BigBlue42/Death%20Charge%2078th/deathcharge31.jpg

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"Sir, TAC reports that the enemy Battle Barges have entered the battle."

"And our BCE's?"

"They'll be there in-no wait...Nienor reports she has engaged the enemy."

i53.photobucket.com/albums/g73/BigBlue42/Death%20Charge%2078th/deathcharge26.jpg
Haruhi is my God(dess).
 
Tristan
Pretty cool stuff. Yeah, that Call of Duty 4 mission was awesomely realistic. I watched a couple real AC-130 Spectre videos afterwards and they were nearly identical.
 
noodle
"Sir, TAC confirms presence of nuclear munitions."

"I didn't think they'd bring them out so soon. I was hoping we would be the first to the punch. Alright than, send a message to all units: 'Attention all fleet elements, use of nuclear arms is authorized. CO ID Code four-seven-victor-charlie-eight-niner-two. I say again, use of nuclear grade weaponry is authorized.' "

"Recorded sir."

"Send it."

----------------------------------------

Torpedo Boat 'Allegheny'

"-is authorized."

"Alright, you heard the man, guns, re-prioritize our ammo trains, bring the anti-cap nukes to the front."

"Aye aye sir, shifting trains."

"Sensors, find us a target."

"Roger...looks like there's a heavy destroyer at bearing 187. Older class, shouldn't prove to tough."

"Alright, lets take her out."

"Ammo trains finished shifting sir."

"Good. helm, move us out."

----------------------------------------

Of the two BCE's, the Nienor was far and away in the best shape, therefor she took point, her PDS shooting down anything that made to move at her badly damaged mate.

Still, something was bound to get through.

----------------------------------------

"Hull breaches on decks 7 and 8!"

"Compartments 34-39 are leeking atmo."

"24 confirmed casualties."

"Inner bulkheads are sealing around the breached areas."

"Rerouting airflow to compensate."

"Combat effectiveness unaffected."

Their luck couldn't hold for long though.

----------------------------------------

The small groups of Vaygr frigates who until now had been lingering on the edge of the battle at last began to move.

Their prey had finally arrived.

----------------------------------------

"Target down."

"Confirmed. Blue flight report in."

"..."

"Blue flight, Sit-Rep now."

"5 here. Looks like me and Champ are the only ones left."

"...copy. Form up on me, I just spotted boarding ships making a bee-line for the BCE's. We need to soften them up as much as we can."

"Without bomber support?"

"Alpha flight's gone and Beta and Gamma are to heavily engaged."

"Roger. Guess it's just us then..."

----------------------------------------

"Copy Blue leader, will relay to CO."

"Sir."

"What is it?"

"Blue lead just reported visual sighting of enemy boarding frigates inbound on our vector."

"What? Why havn't we seen them yet?"

"Sorry sir, sensors are a mess, and our EW frigate was taken out 3 minutes ago."

"Damn. Ok than, alert the Marines and security teams. Looks like they're going to have plenty to do very soon."

----------------------------------------

"Attention all hands! Attention all hands! Standby to repel boarders. External and internal contact imminent. Marines and security personnel report to your CQB stations. Repeat, standby to repel boarders. Contact in 2 minutes."

As Marines hurry to their assigned posts, regular personnel take turns heading to the nearest weapons locker, arming themselves with whatever they can get.

Meanwhile sections are sealed off, uninhabited compartments vented and de-pressurized, and main door locks welded shut. Anything to slow down the intruders.

"3rd Company rendezvous with 22nd Tactical at bulkhead Charlie 14. 2nd Company to 4th airlock."

"You heard the lady, move like you got a purpose! All you greenhorns who wanted to see Vaygr up close, todays your lucky day!"

----------------------------------------

The various weapons of the two BCE's di their best to pick off the boarding ships, but they had other, larger concerns. and the sporadic at best sensor readings didn't help them much either. Combined with the speed and EW packages pf the frigates, many of them were bound to get through.

Fully two-thirds of them concentrated and Nienor, her wounded companion probably not viewed as worth much effort. Getting in close they took up holding positions over the Battlecruisers hull, and began releasing their pods...

----------------------------------------

"Here they come!"

"Steady, hold your fire."

"Let them get bunched up in the lock first."

As the Vaygr began to slowly burn through the thick airlock, Marines and security personnel took up positions behind anything they could find.

They'd be able to inflict heavy losses, but they couldn't hold them off forever, not against a constant stream of boarders. It was only a matter of time.

----------------------------------------

Meanwhile, deeper in the battle, which by now had lost much of it's colorful flair, do the the fact that it had become a much less target rich environment. At least from the Vaygr point-of-view. The Hiigaran strike wings were scattered, many of them completely wiped out. But still, here and there small clutches of fighters and corvettes, fighting doggedly on."

----------------------------------------

And further out, on the outskirts, a lone HGN vessel trades fire with frigates and destroyers. The Auxiliary Carrier Cortania, badly mauled in the battle at Solo, skims the outside of the battle. To venture any deeper would mean instant death, for she is not designed for heavy combat, even were she not already severely damaged.

But even distance couldn't save here from the incredible range of a Progenitor Dreadnought-class beam weapon. Through the soup of jamming and interference, she never even saw it coming.

i53.photobucket.com/albums/g73/BigBlue42/Death%20Charge%2078th/deathcharge36.jpg

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"Oh God!"

"The Cortania is gone!"

"Shit!"

"She's gone, she's fucking gone!"

"Anyone see what took her out?!"

"It was one of those damn Battle Barges! They must be in range of our Capitals!"

"Damn. Alright, we need to do whatever we can to stop those things, all pilots who can hear this, I'm painting the nearest one as my primary target, sync with my computers and engage."

"Are you serious? We can't even make a dent in one of those things!"

"We have to at least try. Gamma Wing moving out."

----------------------------------------

The Vaygr Battle Barge is a beast. A massive Monstrosity whose origins undoubtedly lie in the mind of an idle Vaygr ship designer who wondered what would happen if you took the "City" out of one of their "City of the Stars" class motherships. Indeed, the amount of additional weapon and armor mass you can gain by stripping out, say, the communal market or the ships entertainment district, is large.

But, like the Taidan Emperor of 100 years ago, the word "overkill" apparently has no place in the Vaygr vocabulary. Not content with simply a 'Battleship of the Stars', the Vaygr decided to in essence weld 3 of them together. The result is the Battle Barge, a thing so large it defies comprehension, and so absurdly resilient that even in a Galaxy of Battlecruisers and 500 mega-ton Nuclear munitions it is nigh indestructible.

Indeed, for it's sheer size it is surprisingly underarmed. While it does possess a large array of turreted weapons and point-defense lasers, fully 60% or more of it's mass is pure armor. Massively thick layers followed by a complex lattice of support beams followed by more layers, it is a pattern repeated over and over in it's design.

But what it lacks in traditional weaponry, it more than makes up in it's main battery: 4, yes four, Progenitor Dreadnought cannons. How the Vaygr came to possess such technology is anyone's guess, though it undoubtedly has something to do with a combination of the Loyalist tendency to scavenge and their Taidanii Imperialist allies vastly more advanced tech-base.

The result is a ship which laughs in the face of Battleships and doesn't even notice strikecraft. And the Hiigaran pilots were set to attack this creature.

i53.photobucket.com/albums/g73/BigBlue42/Death%20Charge%2078th/deathcharge25.jpg
Haruhi is my God(dess).
 
Homdax
:whip: More.
king-o'da'bigfile
 
noodle
OW! No whippy! I'll continue it later just put down the whip. Oh dear god, is that a taser?! *runs away*
Haruhi is my God(dess).
 
noodle
While a Battle Barge itself is practically impervious to damage, it's weapons mounts are not. With enough concentrated fire even a heavy turret can be taken down...

----------------------------------------

"Lot of incoming fire."

"Hold it steady, almost in range."

"My stocks are dry."

"Use secondaries, whatever you have left."

"Roger."

"In range!"

"Fire fire!"

"Birds away."

"They're launching counters."

"Laser clusters are tracking!"

"Flak turret heading your way 6."

"I see it, taking evasive action."

"Picking up contacts on incoming vector. Probably fighters."

"Ignore them, we don't have the ammo to deal with anyone else."

----------------------------------------

"All hands fall back to tertiary defensive positions."

"You heard 'em, move move!"

"Covering fire!"

"Frag out!"

"Corridor 2, they're trying to flank!"

"Command, we can't hold them off much longer, enemy troops are within 30 meters of engineering. Please advis-SHIT!"

----------------------------------------

"Sir, enemy forces are converging on engineering, the marines have been cut off and can't assist."

"Captain! Fire control for the main turrets is offline."

"Incoming Battle Barge on vector 3-5."

"...that's it. We're done. Sound the evacuation order."

"While you do what? Go down with the ship?"

"If thats what it takes. Helm, point us at that Barge and then get yourself to an escape pod."

"Sir, you can't be seri-"

"The computers are too badly shot up, they might not stay on course if we set them to auto. Someone has to fly her in manual. Now move!"

----------------------------------------

The Assault Carrier 'Delion' certainly justified her title. While her Auxiliary counterpart went left, she took the right flank of the battle, and she went in with guns blazing. Surviving records attribute her with 5 frigate kills, 1 destroyer kill, and 2 more destroyers with the assistance other fleet assets. The number of lighter ships she eliminated is unknown, but undoubtedly high. She seems to have survived till the end of the battle, a testament to her resilience and the skill of her crew.

i53.photobucket.com/albums/g73/BigBlue42/Death%20Charge%2078th/deathcharge22.jpg

----------------------------------------

"Number two mount is down!"

"PDS is down to 34%."

"Incoming frigates from port side."

"I can't get into contact with anyone sir, I think they're all gone."

"Heh. Looks like we'll be seeing them all soon enough anyway..."

"Enemy frigates have opened fire!"

"Was an honor serving with you all. Just wanted you to know that."

i53.photobucket.com/albums/g73/BigBlue42/Death%20Charge%2078th/deathcharge9.jpg

----------------------------------------

"Battle Barge is locked on!"

"They're preparing to fire!"

"Helm, roll ship, roll us NOW!"

Through some miracle the ensign was able to dodge the first beam. Though powerful, Dreadnought main weaponry isn't the most accurate.

i53.photobucket.com/albums/g73/BigBlue42/Death%20Charge%2078th/deathcharge11.jpg

The ensign wasn't able to repeat his performance a second time however.

i53.photobucket.com/albums/g73/BigBlue42/Death%20Charge%2078th/deathcharge12.jpg

----------------------------------------

The Captain of the Nienor went down with his ship. But he did manage to take an enemy Barge with him.

i53.photobucket.com/albums/g73/BigBlue42/Death%20Charge%2078th/deathcharge10.jpg

----------------------------------------

Though their official title is "Battle Cruiser Escort", the name is somewhat misleading. Though they are indeed designed for Escort duty, they are still Battle Cruisers. Rather than simple convoy or shipyard protection, these vessels are designed to provide cover for even more powerful, and thus more valuable, Battleships and Super-Heavy Cruisers. They are therefor designed to both take punishment and dish it out.

HGN 'Fearless' however, was in no shape to do much of either, and with her sister ship gone, she quickly succumbed to the intense firepower directed at her.

----------------------------------------

"The Fearless is gone..."

"How about our Light-Cruisers?"

"We've lost contact with all of them, presumed destroyed."

"Our frigate line is scattered all to hell and we only have 3 Arbiters left, 2 of them badly damaged."

"Strike wings are at 90% combat loss."

"Guess we have no other choice then. Whats the status on the mine layer?"

"She just finished planting her last nuke."

"Sir! Four More Battle Barges have entered weapons range."

"That's the last of them. It was pleasure to know all of you. I'm sorry it had to come to this."

"Pleasure was ours, sir."

"None of us regret anything, Admiral."

"I guess this is goodbye. Detonation authorization code Sierra-Three-Seven-Echo-Zulu-Eight. May Sajuuk accept us all into his presence."

----------------------------------------

Though specially designed for space warfare, and despite the number deployed (over 2 dozen), the ultra-high yield, 500 megaton nuclear charges, even with their special casing's that fueled the reaction for a few extra, precious fractions of a second thus greatly enhancing their destructive power, the battle space was simple to large for nukes not in an atmosphere to produce the kind of burst of radiation and energy that was detected by sensors up to 20 light-years away.

However, after thorough investigation, analysts have concluded that the nukes did manage to rouse the long dormant Progenitor reactor, which promptly lost containment and unleashed it's power, wiping out everything within 2,500 km in all directions.

All surviving data, taken from the black boxes of what was left of both Vaygr and Hiigaran vessels, which only survived because they were on the outskirts of the battle, and thus escaped the brunt of the explosion, and gathered through collection of various latent sensor echoes and snatches of com traffic, leads analysts to conclude that the total Vaygr losses amounted to 50+ frigates, at least 20 destroyers of various classes, 3 heavy cruisers, 6 Battle Barges, a dozen or so carriers, and one 'City of the Stars' class mothership. The number of lighter-craft killed is unknown, but easily 600+. Given all available data on average Vaygr crew sizes, and assuming the City Ship was fully populated, this puts the number of Loyalist dead at at least 20,000.

The 78th was completely wiped out, total human losses amounting to a little over 5,000, the numbers inflated due to survivors taken on board during the evacuation of Solo.

So, in the final equation, though it makes the loss of so many souls no less painful, the 78th did, from a strategic viewpoint, more than justify their total destruction. The loss of the City Ship, and even more importantly, the half-dozen Battle Barges would have severe impacts on the Loyalist campaign in months to come.

The Wraiths of Sajuuk showed that they were indeed worthy of their name.

----------------------------------------

Author's note: Though much of this account is fictitious and dramatized, the actual events of the battle described are accurate, or as accurate as possible, given all surviving data.

For information on the Battle of Solo, the author suggests two works, the first being the official ONI report on the engagement, which, though comprehensive, is a rather dry read.

For a more personal and dramatic, though less all-encompassing and complex, take on the events, the author suggests "The Disaster at Solo", by Earon Nabaal. Though it does not cover every aspect of the battle, it does follow select units through the entire conflict, and provides an excellent account of what it was like for the people involved, from the lowest ranks up to the Fleet commanders.
Haruhi is my God(dess).
 
TelQuessir
A tragic and yet honorable battle to the last.
 
noodle
Ending was a bit rushed. If anyone wants to pad out the story, feel free to, certainly no lack of ships and squadrons to write about in this battle.

Next I think I'll um...take down, shall we say, Miss Nabaals account of the battle of Solo. This was really just a warm up for that, to get into the fiction writing groove. That ones gonna be fun. Oh yes...oh so fun.

I'm going to love have negative frame rates when I launch games with 6 full sized PDS fleets for screenie taking.
Haruhi is my God(dess).
 
Tristan
You're a brilliant writer. Thanks for the best HW2 related article I've ever read.
 
FinalSeraphim
Indeed, I tried this once before but could never get my screen shots to enter the way I wanted, plus the lack of angles that you obviously captured with grace, I commend thee!
I am the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last... the beginning and your end.
 
noodle
Screenies are fairly easy to get, I just had so many ships engaged that it was unlikely I WOULDN'T find something I could use. Just make sure to use Fraps instead of the in game screenshot thing to avoid the annoying icon in the bottom corner.

On an unrelated note, I'm thinking of having at least 1, probably 2, prototype ships in my next story. Just making sure no one has a problem with me adding to the already extensive PDS armory. Not that I expect them to be added in v12 or anything, just don't want to cluttering up lore with non-approved vessels.
Haruhi is my God(dess).
 
TelQuessir
No problems just be sure to introduce the readers to the new ships telling them what the ship was originally (we had a lot of interesting things like Arbiter CVLs once)
 
noodle
I miss those. Any chance of some of the ships from older versions returning in 12 or later?
Haruhi is my God(dess).
 
TelQuessir
Yep. Huge change!
 
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