Hull 721, plot arc the second

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Post by Vianca » 2014-01-16 12:26am

Nothing like the present.

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Post by InsaneTD » 2014-01-16 05:19am

Indeed. I love this story, Black Prince and her crew. I've thoroughly enjoyed reading it and always look forward to the next instalment. I rarely comment because I don't want to just continually pussy variations on "excellent chapter". I haven't noticed any grammar our spelling errors and my knowledge of star wars isn't as good as it used to be so I've stayed out of most of the discussions that come up.

Thank you for writing the story of Black Prince and sharing it with us.

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Post by macfanpro » 2014-01-17 03:57pm

As others have mentioned, thanks very much for writing this. Personally, I think that it's one of (if not the) best SW fics out there, including canon ones.
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Post by sropike » 2014-01-17 04:14pm

I'd also like to take the oppoertunity to thank you for your excellent efforts in writing this story.
I also rarely comment, as in most cases the only comment that can be made is some variation of well done, indeed very well done.
The way you weave your story is simply compelling, your characters are interesting, engaging, they are utterly alive. Even the minor ones have more depth than many protagonists out there. The stry can be likened to a flood: it sweeps you along and doesn't let you go. The characters are true to themselves, the story flows extremely well, events play out so organically, nothing seems contrived.
This truly is literature.

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Post by Eleventh Century Remnant » 2014-01-26 11:55am

In terms of my own motivations for doing this, I started out with a neat idea, but it long ago passed the point where I write because I have readers. Thank you all.

Midwinter is not my best time of year; I use 6500K colour temperature bulbs, and they help a bit, but sometimes it's just grumbling time. On a more positive note and in terms of other mad ideas, I need another flanking story, and I have two things- all right, four bubbling around my head.

If you thought Mirannon was slightly mad, you need to encounter the renegade genius of Fritz van Noon. There are an interesting set of stories- Ebookable- by Colin Kapp, titled the Unorthodox Engineers; in an overly organised society, star- spanning but efficiently regimented, detail- obsessed, bureauratised and formalised, the principles of bodge it and scarper have long been laid by the wayside. Solid and thorough are the watchwords. So when something comes up that needs old fashioned improvisation, there are only a handful of people left who can think far enough sideways to deal with the mad and the strange. Most of the stories are puzzle stories where what's going on is key, so no details, but they're worth looking out.
The UE reserve squad was about to be sent on a very long range probe mission beyond the reach of their civilisation, extragalactic in fact, and most of the stories are from the warm up period to that; wonder where they were going?

The other mad idea that has crossed my mind of late is another crossover, involving one of my own characters although not from SW- Ignatius. Who knows Charles Stross' laundry series?
This could be made to fit- a band of cultists (Chthulu mythos cultists, specifically) try to summon a demon, get it slightly wrong, and accidentally gate through a daemonhunter. Could be entertaining; he would react very badly to the Black Chamber, I think.

Anyway, the current chapter.

There were also those who had been left behind but not yet overtaken by events. Since the droid- it was hard to call it a revolt, what was the right term, a circus perhaps? Nerveless had been largely inactive, waiting for something to happen, for a word or a mission or- anything really, but best something that gave them some idea of what they were supposed to be doing, by whom and to what end.

The captain was uneasily aware that he held his position and rank at the word of a now officially declared renegade, with whom he had a very chequered past and acquaintance.

If he hadn't thought of all the problems that could arise, it was a fair bet the backstabbing cannibals in the command crew had. Fortunately- for once it was a good thing- the Illustris class had a reduced complement of stormtroopers on board.

The rank and vile, at least that was what the petty tyrant of an executive officer he had inherited called them, would be relatively little difficulty; in fact the crew might have to be held back a bit, they had gone past rebel somewhere out into anarchist.

The stormtroopers would be the biggest difficulty, their loyalty conditioning made them alternative resistant; worse than droids who could at least be hacked and reprogrammed.

The marines, though, it seemed as if their reasoning faculties were entirely disconnected from their motivations. They could think about the enemy, study them in great detail, read their treatises and manifestoes, absorb and decode their entire complex of ideas and reasons for being the enemy of the empire, and even come to believe that the rebels were fundamentally correct; and when the time came to act, still blast the people they agreed profoundly with into instant barbecue.

It was possible to connect them up as human beings capable of more than that overarching invoulntary loyalty, but it took years and it had to be an inside job. You had to start on their side, within their goal system, and gradually steer them round.

The most famous example was actually Vader's own 501 Legion, although he had been helped greatly by being high up on their loyalty tree anyway. They would be willing to act against the Empire and Emperor for him.

Otherwise, it probably actually took less to get stormtroopers to rebel than the Empire hoped that it did, but there was a rotation system designed to shuffle them on frequently enough to stop them forming human connections with anyone but each other.

As difficult as it was to get through to them it would be impossible if nobody had the chance to try. Not that it was infallible; breakdowns in the rotation system were responsible for what chances anyone did get- like the ten years Lennart had the same legion on his ship.

Far from a unique case, though; cases of stormtroopers going strange, or native, or outright mutinous did happen, when they spent too long on the same duty station- when they were parked somewhere and left there.

The idea of the Beachtrooper had become such an ingrained urban legend in the Corps some people believed it was an approved troop type. The rest encouraged it, in the hope that one day there really would be a moff that stupid. (Airam Balfour came close.)

They were the exceptions that put the rule to the proof, the odd men out in the obedient herd, and there was nothing at all to make Commander Raesene think he had any hope of suborning his understrength regiment in the time he had available. The fighters- two squadrons of /ln one of /sa bombers- were as loyal as might be expected from anyone who held their lives cheaply enough to choose to be a TIE pilot.

If he gave them enough excuses to blow things up, they might be all right- but who? He hadn't talked to the crew about what he had found, been sent to find. Hadn't really tried to win their loyalty at all, didn't want to speak of it too soon.

How exactly do you tell your crew that sort of thing? Oh, by the way, we're working for an inhuman, incurably soul- hungry maniac who thinks of you as a particularly entertaining species of cattle?

You need to spend years getting them to trust you, for a start. Or to shatter their mindset and worldview in one mighty hammerblow of truth, which was what he was seriously considering doing.

He also had an asset- the shower of smuggling ships that Black Prince's fighter wing had taken, some of them even flyable, and his own shuttle and dropship complement. An evil scheme had just occurred to him.

We can't abandon the tender, so the ship can't go anywhere unless she does too. Can't take her into a war zone. There are people I want off my ship, and I do, suddenly, have a mission to send them on and a means to get them there. They'll realise that's what I'm up to, and that it will probably get them killed, unless I somehow manage to make them want to do it and not ask nearly enough questions.

What would be a suitable lure? Loyalty, redemption, career prospects, money? Orders, even? That might actually work tell them to go and do it, if they refused he would then have an authoritarian case for having them shot, which would make rebellion easier.

And I am going to have to join the alliance, he thought. If for no other reason that I need someone else to bounce ideas off, someone I can actually lay down my paranoia with and just talk about this, try and make sense of what I think and feel and want without the analysis and the answers turning into yet another layer of the game of spies.

Not that I actually want to, the old republic fell for a reason, but I don't have the mad seed that would make me happy as part of no cause, acting for no reason save that of my own will.

There are circumstances in which being a sociopath is a distinct advantage, including command of an Imperial warship the way the system is set up, but I can't function like that any more- was only ever emulating it really, and all desire to do so has been boiled off.

Wait a moment, this plan to get the stormtrooper complement killed off is fairly sociopathic...then again, so are they. If there were years, maybe, but there is no time for subtlety. There may not even be time for doing the right thing, whatever it is.

What may be necessary is to let leak some of what I found, details of the murders of people and hopes, the multiple rapes of the law, the grand theft of the future and the acts of transfinite ego committed in the name of Empire. Let who can, be convinced by that.

Before that, or after, let the things escape? For the peace of my own conscience, before. The people I plan to feed into the maw, give them a chance to show themselves not to be wholly murderous. Then send those I can't afford to keep around off to be killed, make some kind of recognition codes of the day kriffup that should get them shot by the loyalists.

Leaves me without a drop and fighter complement, but I won't need one if I make it out, I'm sure they'lll assign a squadron of X- wings. How to get the rest of the crew off? Faking a reactor accident's been done to death. With interesting cockups both ways.

At least one ship- a Vic-I light destroyer if memory served- the ISB had installed an override to prevent it, they had been so intent on the idea of a faked reactor accident they had programmed the escape pods and survival systems to shut down in the event of a reactor malfunction- even a real one.

The crew did not take kindly to being told they were untrusted and expendable, and had actually decided to mutiny independently of the officers the measure had been put in place against. Must have been interesting.

Apparently they had got away with it, partly because- and this was a scary thought- the tampering had managed to hash over another security feature; the squadron political officer had been unable to remotely activate the self destruct.

That was jawdroppingly stupid- to anyone who understood it it probably was good grounds for defection. Did nobody think past first order anymore?

The rebs were, as a rule, an odd mix of criminals and crusaders, and unfortunately tended to combine the survival instinct, deviousness and ability to think beyond normal bounds of the criminal with the relentlessness, devotion to cause and willingness to put oneself at hazard of the crusader- rather than the other way around.

It was certainly possible to find stupid ones, in fact it usually was the stupid ones who got found out; the hard core of the alliance were dangerous indeed. They would certainly try to take advantage of a glaring vulnerability like that, especially if it amounted to a 'you die, I win' button.

There was a good reason why nobody sane did things like that, and the only reason they hadn't suffered more from it must be that the Alliance could hardly believe the Empire would be that stupid.

There had been another case- variously reported as a cruiser or small capital ship so it had been blurred in the telling- where apparently rebel saboteurs had managed to get on board, and tried to trigger a reactor radiation alarm in order to get the crew off, for shipjacking purposes.

What they had actually managed to do was send the plant into full emergency overload. Trying to set up a fake accident, they had caused a real one.

The crew had indeed bolted for it- small wonder with the ship about to melt under them and irradiate them so badly their ancestors would retroactively die of cancer- and then watched from the escape pods as their ship flushed out a huge cloud of emergency coolant, wobbled a bit and made the jump to hyperspace.

Somehow they had managed to get it back under control and stole what was, in all of the versions of the story, a frighteningly large ship.

The reason it hadn't been seen since was that the alliance had apparently decided it would be too big, too conspicuous and too inefficient to run, and broken it up for parts and spares, stripped and recycled the guns and armour, fields, shields and all the soft tissue.

Even a Senator class light cruiser, and the rumours suggested a much bigger ship than that, could be broken down and reconstructed as most of eight or nine mon cal cruisers. Reactor balls would be the biggest single thing cannibalisation couldn't supply.

Granted that most of the alliance's fools and incurable optimists were at grass roots level, and it was more tolerable further up, what then? He had already defected once, as part of an intelligence operation- they would have some very awkward questions to put to him. More awkward than those of the ISB when they got around to noticing he wasn't dead?

Staying in place, loyalism, was not an option. Let it leak then, then set up, hm, let the transports and traders tow the fighters and bombers through hyperspace, give them orders to attack- then wing it from there?

Perad Olghaan was not having a good day. So far, it was better than that of ninety thousand or so of the people under his command, but there were no guarantees that it would not get that much worse.

In fact, he was thinking looking at the table of organisation that had once looked so neat and tidy, but now had lines drawn through it at non- random intervals, the casualty lists are enormous, exactly the size of a beacon. Questions will be asked.

Questions I should maybe have asked before getting into this, and may pay with my head for not asking. The high price of failure seems fair enough when you're hungry, ambitious and looking to fill dead men's jackboots; not so much when you have the job and are trying to keep it. Get a grip. Now is not the time to be worrying about consequences, now is the time to be making sure they don't happen.

If I can get him out into the open in a conventional gunnery engagement, five against one, we can take him. As phenomenally good at the footwork as he is, he can't evade five shooters at once, the difficulties multiply by the angles. We almost have him in that position, there's just this kriffing inconvenient planet in the way.

Two of the five ships I need down there in it with him, in an opaque space that might as well be made for ambushes, that they were signalled to pull back from.

He went down there knowing that we'd have no choice but to come in after him, knowing that we'd have to leave some of the more fragile and wind- friable up here, including the interdictors, intending to break past us riding a plume of hot gas, fusing or not, do as much damage to us as possible en passant, take out the ships that could stop him running and as many as possible of those that could track him, then break for freedom.

What else, any stops on the way, possibility of interception? His ship was in remarkably good condition for having just come out of a refit they didn't have time to finish, but they had help, didn't they, a fleet tender- which hadn't reported in, and if it hadn't been suborned was still under renegade orders. That could be found a lot more easily than a renegade destroyer. Might even respond to a straightforward query.

If Falcata and Ineffable can be extracted safely. They're good ships, not manned by fools; although I will have to do better if they are not to be commanded by one. They should be able to get some kind of spectra, a sniff would be enough; I cannot believe that even in such an environment, the renegades' ship could detect, gain firing solution, close and fire before either of them got at least enough of a touch for the rest of us to give covering fire on.

I also believed he was pumping enough energy into a failed star to get a local fusion reaction that would spread, and we should be seeing an area rise in neutrino emissions if that was happening. The energy went out, we monitored that much. No result. Why?

Because the colour gives it away, it's too easy to get washed away by the strangeness of the universe and forget there were reasons. The thing's not a pure ball of hydrogen, that's why, this is or was before all this a rich system, there must be a large amount of other gunk in there.

Going bang isn't feasible, it's too contaminated for that- which also means it's cloudier and more turbulent, and much worse space to fight in. He wasn't looking for explosions, he was seeking a smokescreen.

Say an efficiency rating of seven versus eight, if the conditions are only bad enough to be worth minus one there's not much to choose, but minus six would be a decisive advantage to the renegade. Which is why he's boiling up the lower atmosphere.

'Ineffable signals, active sensor pulses and heavy jamming close aboard- data security compromised, loss of signal.' Or, in short, kriff.

'Sensors?' Hellfire, ambushes were possible in an environment that close and obscure, and that was a ship he couldn't afford to lose. What was actually happening, was it feasible to fire in support, did try have a target, was the Tector still there?

'Tachyonics stable, gravitics showing point source activity, strong patterning in the active etahertz- I don't believe it.'

The signal officer knew the captain was urgently waiting for something that actually made sense to emerge, but it made very little sense at all unless you accepted the impossible, or at least the apparently so. 'Ineffable hasn't been shot, she's been hacked.'

'In an environment that is as near as anything made of electronic noise?'

'Only place it could be done, combat ECM would prevent it if it was tried in open space. They must have used main active sensors to flood the damage control network with worms. If more than just com- scan is gone, if the fields and particle shields are away too...the reactor ball would be the last thing to go.'

'He hasn't.' Olghaan decided. 'He's too sneaky for that. He's left us a wounded ship to carry, and an infection of doubt. Ineffable will be unable to navigate, repulsors maybe but main and hyper shot out, navigation, sensors, comms and fire control all fried. Those worms would also have carried whatever he's using for a manifesto. Falcata will be moving to support and rescue, right into the ambush.' So far, so depressing. Counteraction?

Gravitics. Thin out the atmosphere over them, which would probably result in two shooting solutions, theirs and ours. Which if we shoot and get hits, is acceptable.

Is even the energy that three interdictors can pump in going to be enough to shift enough of their atmosphere- to make the entire planet go boink? Could the focus on them be narrowed down enough to in effect go fishing for star destroyers? Now there was an interesting possibility.

What does he not expect- better, what does he both not expect and not want? He doesn't expect us to all go in there after him but he would be overjoyed if we did, one of the reasons he went for a disable instead of a kill. He does want me to abandon Ineffable, the morale of the task force is already shaky enough and couldn't stand much more, and it might help him make a convert.

They're too far down for message drones, narrowbeam holonet? Probably fried too. Relay via Falcata- if Ineffable could manage to fake being ready to defect, being convinced by whatever reasons he had to rebel- and Olghaan suddenly decided he did not want to know.

In fact he had made them semi- public , had he not- staged a conference at which he had essentially announced his defection or at least admitted he could no longer support the Empire.

And very carefully given no specifics. Damnation, he had practically been angling for an offer; openly announcing that his continued loyalty, and silence, had a price. Leaving just enough clues and leads to et someone in the know realise exactly what he was offering to be silent about.

His price was too high, so they sent us to kill him? Someone did, anyway- the name on the warrant is that of one of the more minor princelings of court, but the impulse came from far higher up; and it is being executed with mixed success so far (leave us not lose our optimism), under the probably missing nose of Vader.

Or what he knew was too much to be let out under any circumstances, but what fitted that bill? It wasn't that the Empire was necessarily very evil- the rebels said so a million times a day and only the soft headed fools who would listen to absolutely anything listened.

Lennart wasn't a bleeding heart; he had openly stated that it was irrelevant in the long term that the Empire were the bad guys, it was only to be expected that the pendulum would swing that way and people were going to be squished by it.

A strong central government trying to re- establish its' authority over a galaxy almost broken up in petty feuds, local introversions, ancient grudges and small s separatism could not do it gently, it was inevitable that there would be blood spilled; the question was whether even going too far would be far enough.

At least, that was what came out of his mouth. True opinions may be at variance, but surely no-one starts a revolt because of a mid life crisis?

Or fights that well for a cause in which they do not believe. He's an outlier, a man who likes to be on the outer edges of whatever he is in; a man who needs to be allowed to be at least a semi renegade if his core loyalty is to be kept. We should have allowed him to defect to the rebels- he'd probably rebel against them.

So why is he down there- why was he expecting us at all? In the last crisis he must have uncovered something that offended against what even a long view pragmatist thinks of the Empire, which made him decide to take against and somehow to offend the real ruling class, not the pompous, rich and ancient. He had served with the last of the Republic peacetime fleet- anything left over from that era? Could be.

Understand why, that might help understand how. He had blown the Torpedo Sphere apart, which was certainly not the act of a friend, but he had incapacitated Ineffable and was clearly waiting to ambush Falcata.

Warn her off- send a frigate to do the rescue and pickup, enough ship for that job, tell the destroyer to break for surface and visibility. And see how he reacts to it.

Far away, a dithering old fool was falling, larynx crushed, onto a deckplate where he struggled his last surrounded by followers who dared not help him, and a once- confident man whose courage had been eroded by having too many such things happen in front of him had just inherited the death spot;

another officer had found that while it may be true that one makes one's own luck, in general, it is against the background of a universe infested with demons of perverse mischance.

The Chiss Rear-Admiral had shed himself of his annoyance, with the end in mind of drawing and diverting attention to herself- she appeared plausible from a distance as a courier and agent, a job she actually had far too much ego for.

It might be believable from the outside that she was the go between in some elaborate scheme for political profit between one of the starfleet's most creatively lethal ship commanders and one of its' most deviously dangerous flag officers.

If that had been the case, they would both be better off for it. Was still something of a mystery and an annoyance why it actually hadn't worked out that way. How dare he let a simple difficulty like clashing personalities get in the way of his career; didn't he grasp what was at stake, promotion- elevation in rank, status, wealth and power? Or had he simply ceased to value those things?

Obssessing about the past was profoundly counterproductive, but it was necessary to vent from time to time, ideally where no-one could hear him- he had a reputation to maintain. His private meditation often consisted of anything but calm. Having blown off coolant, the question became, what now?

They were not , in any meaningful sense, on the same side any more. Had retained the same enemies, to a degree. There were plotters against Palpatine, certainly, and they were important and concerned enough to have one of the investigators declared a renegade and have ships diverted to hunt him.

Vader's total indifference was unfortunately not incriminatory, it was all too predictable. The dark lord was not part of their plans, and they were not part of Vader's.

Which left him relying, first, on the extensive array of tracking devices and bugs built into his personal transport, and secondly, on the forces arrayed against him. It was almost annoying that they were not trying to kill him too; better a hit to the ego than a hit to the hull from main battery fire any day.

At some point they would, and although they would likely have been treated as mushrooms, they should yield something that would allow him to begin again he process of deduction.

Proof had always been extraordinarily unlikely; seeds of reasonable suspicion were all that could reasonably be expected, and those reasonable suspicions had barely begun to assume a direction.

Knowing the people involved, the most likely was very senior indeed- the vaguely pointing finger of suspicion was hovering most nearly over the Procurator of Justice. A being at the centre of a thriving trade in favours.

He had more limbs at his disposal than it looked- he often acted as the presiding officer of the college of Moffs, when Palpatine was busy and now that Tarkin was vapour. In that aspect he usually described his job as herding, but culling would also have been a good word.

Various kinds of inspectorates answered to him, and there was empire building afoot as he progressively co- opted the pieces of the Committee for the Preservation of the New Order whose patrons had gone, and made them his own.

Where they had gone, of course, was usually into his maw or at least that of the system he ran. Even if there was the full weight of the law only for the average being and the rich and powerful had what were more like the rules of the game, Hethrir was in charge of both, and enjoyed playing the game himself-with the house advantage behind him. He had the contacts to arrange something like this, certainly.

His ability to protect his own position made him incredibly dangerous to investigate, so pretending to know nothing, nothing, might have been a wiser survival decision while the chiss rear- admiral and his agents desperately sought something, anything.

This, in the middle of managing four other incidents- well, these were the games that Palpatine played, setting situations like this up and watching his minions writhe and struggle.

Almost any being, raised to the position of overlord of the island universe, would do the same. Certainly anyone capable of forcing their way to it. No sense expecting snowballs in hell.

The chances of the procurator deciding to be unjust in his personal direction were high. Hopefully he would; talking his way out of that situation was a distinct possibility.

Where things went completely mammaries vertical, of course, was that the Alliance fleet were busy too, avoiding a head on clash that they would lose, but they had to do something. trying to find and kill Death Squadron's supply train and force them to retreat a little, withdraw something anyway;

also attempting to hunt and kill Imperial patrols, create safe zones for the evacuation transports to flee to; leave false trails and decoys, although they were too late in that.

The pair of longprobe Y- wings that jumped in to investigate a suspicious contact were very surprised to find a fleet tender working on an apparently electronically dead star destroyer.

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Post by Vianca » 2014-01-26 12:51pm

Good chapter, seems things get even more twisted.
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Post by Simon_Jester » 2014-01-26 04:03pm

Eleventh Century Remnant wrote:The other mad idea that has crossed my mind of late is another crossover, involving one of my own characters although not from SW- Ignatius. Who knows Charles Stross' laundry series?

This could be made to fit- a band of cultists (Chthulu mythos cultists, specifically) try to summon a demon, get it slightly wrong, and accidentally gate through a daemonhunter. Could be entertaining; he would react very badly to the Black Chamber, I think.
This is a really good idea to go with, if you ask me. Note that for everyone's sanity's sake I'd houserule that Warhammer 40k doesn't exist as a fictional franchise in the Laundry's universe, for the usual reasons of avoiding recursion.

Also, my first reflex was- power armor gives Ignatius too much of an edge. Then I remembered some of the weirder and more arcane weaponry in the Laundry's setting- what happens to power armor when it gets hit by a basilisk gun?

And yes, I think "very badly" is an understatement. It's still a little vague exactly how the Black Chamber operates, but as best I can come up with they're a cabal of necromancers, most of them actually dead, served by various malevolent spirits summoned into human bodies and bound by various wards. They'd fit in rather well with the Black Towers backstory you set up for that fantasy game of yours, come to think of it. In 40k they'd be a quite nasty Chaos cult, plain and simple.

Oh, and for those who haven't read the Laundry novels... the Black Chamber is the US government's paranormal-intelligence agency. Ugh. And you thought renditions and drones were bad...
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Post by Eleventh Century Remnant » 2014-02-07 09:01am

Mostly tactical update this time. Violence, with some stupidity and confusion.

They were expecting trouble, and what came out of jump was almost exactly it. Black Prince's Eta and Psi squadrons, twenty-four Avenger fighters loaded for antiship. Nobody was carrying fighter missiles today; too many targets, too many big things worth shooting at. Five destroyers, six heavy frigates, serious ships of force. HTL capable, anyway.

At the south polar cluster, most of the smaller craft of the battle force, including the two primary targets. About forty fighter squadrons between them all probably. Amazingly few of them actually out in space and waiting, and for what reason... must be a trap. We used to be on their side, I'd hate to think they were that boneheaded, Eta One thought.

The skipper had told them, straight out, surprisingly little; he hadn't hidden anything from them either. Let them find most of what he was discovering and come to their own conclusions about it. Things like asking the nav to prepare warning messages to be sent to the crew's families were a bit of a giveaway, too.

Most of the crew had quickly come to the conclusion that he was making no emphatic statements, unless allowing them to misbehave spectacularly counted, because even he was embarrassed and ashamed of what was under the Empire's mask.

Because if everything that those who should know had relayed was true, he was prepared to swallow his bile and make a pretence of loyalty for their sake, if for no other reason.

There was a time to do that, and a time to throw caution to the wind. A time for loyalty, and a time for- what had Olleyri said? 'Banzai motherfucker', full throttle mayhem. Twenty to one odds, at least. There was an Acclamator in there; thirty to one, maybe. Not that it was going to stop them.

Antifighter weapons were a sore point in the Imperial fleet. Missiles were easy to shoot down, because they were mostly very predictable.

Bombers were fairly predictable, too- certainly the Imperial ones were, and the Alliance's Y- wings had suffered for years from the old republic bomber mentality of must push on through, must deliver ordnance. Even when the ships could do it, the doctrine crippled them.

Strike fighters changed the game, less in terms of what they could do than of how they were flown. Fast, evasive approaches to target that fell straight into a gap in existing point defence theory and equipment; the existing light turbolaser fit on most ships was designed to kill bombers, too heavy and too slow tracking to deal with ships that, so far in this generation, had not been much of a threat.

As the designers of the Death Star might have said, oops.

Of them all, the Avenger was the best in squadron service, on either side. There were wilder and weirder prototypes, the Defender which represented the outer limit of what was possible with TIE- series technology, kitbashed one off rebel catamaran and trimaran fighters that fortunately did not seem to have caught on, various small gunship concepts, but on the line they were it. And they intended to prove it.

Emergence, and the usual flood of tactical data, waking up on the battlefield- cursing computers that took whole eyeblinks to scan and filter, pick real targets out from jamming artifacts. The shoal of small ships had little deployed- a mistake. They must have expected to have to go in chase, and been unwilling to hazard the time to launch and retrieve their TIEs. Which was more consideration than usual.

Misplaced if it meant the things were operating effectively without screen. If it had been meant to lure the entire wing in, it made a little more sense, invite them then go full zap, ship laser crossfire then sortie to take the survivors; as it was, there were a handful of shots relatively easily evaded, then a pause as they tried to decide what to do with the small handful of targets they had.

Either reaction would serve, could be made to work for them. The Avengers opened out into a loose pack, room to dodge individually and an unrewarding target for barrage fire- still a risk, but wasn't it always? Shaped course towards what looked to be the antifighter coordinator, the Acclamator- aiming to draw a reaction.

Doing it, in theory, backwards. The fighters were probably, in this case and instance, less of a threat than the massed defensive fire of the frigate-corvette group- the Avenger could outrun and out-manoeuvre most anything the group could put in the air, it was the old traditional response that was actually most dangerous. Especially if they had a shred of sense about it. Sooner a dogfight than playing spacedust roulette with barrage fire.

Much better if it inhibited their guns, for fear of hitting their own tie fighters. Shulmar had expected them to be shot at badly; and there, the first blazes of green light, appeared he was right on both counts. Heavy but scattered. Mostly aimed, too- perfect, let them aim and miss, ignore the usefulness of predicted barrage.

The Acclamator was being very enthusiastic, and all it's friends were joining in- great, they were missing, the fighters trailing cones of luminous tracer behind them, but the clock was ticking- how long could you stay on your toes through this? Had to present a crossing target, but how do you do that to a sky full of ships all around?

It was like a mad eldritch echo of the days of sail, couldn't take a course directly into the wind, had to zig zag towards it, tacking and wearing; those days were a long way gone on every world that built star warships, but something echoed down to the modern day. Couldn't go straight into the fire, had to dance with it, play with it, sneak up on it. Now do it to fifty angles of fire at once.

The squadrons had separated, down into component elements- no sense giving a nice, compact target that might encourage them to go barrage after all. All converging again on what was a bluff but otherwise highly credible target. The defence coordinator would be good to eliminate, if this was the first of a sequence of raids. The prospect should disturb their thinking a little.

There; a little too late for best effect, bay doors opening. Scrambling their own fighters to take the attackers head on. Couldn't have been happy about it, in almost all the exercise and simulator scenarios, Avengers ate line TIEs like popcorn. Well, better that than a tricky opponent.

The numbers were worrying though. How many worker ants did it take to smother a hornet? Something like this many, maybe. As far as was possible to tell they were all coming out to play- every fighter carrying ship its' rated complement or close to it. Timing was weird, and they were all starting to move to intercept. Doctrine, but still bloody mad.

Was it worth turning the feint into a real attack after all, would a heavy torpedo fired into the cloud of fighters be shot down, would it take enough of them that a second shot, second salvo, could go straight down the throat into their flight bay? A bomber pilot's dream shot. Defending fighters at odds of ten to one, vectors not impossible, always keep something to twitch with, probably not and keep the primary.

Didn't mean they should do nothing though. 'Eta, flight leaders, one round each blast- effect, into the fighter stream.' As much as could reasonably be spared, as much as would blow useful holes in the ranks of the TIE loyalists that would be chasing them when they bent their course around to engage their actual target.

Joystick exercise so far, no blood, much sweat and adrenalin but nobody hit, black ghosts bumblebee'ing their way through a saccading spiderweb of turbolaser fire.

What is it anyway about death and poetry, is it that the possibility of extinction makes people come over all poetastic, or do we use that turgid, high- falutin' drivel as anaesthetic, as a means of reconciling ourselves to the prospect of death?

Missiles were more easily detectable than the Avengers with their spoofing and sensor deception gear. Somebody over there was trying to be clever, staying passive, covering their flanks and rear against second and third waves, correctly reading this as an opening move- but missing so many possibilities in the process.

This is why there are coordinators, so that one ship can cover another's vulnerabilities, exploit possibilities that another might miss, so that one can sweep the flanks and wait for the shoe to drop while the other watches and works on the primary threat. They're doing it half right, no more. Too much time spent fighting pirates, who almost always give a fast but shapeless fight.

They don't really do tactics, most of the pirates of the galaxy, but they do move fast; to catch them and beat them, you needed speed, not subtlety. Most of the book, after chapter two, they never got to. Which was bad practice for fighting an enemy with a proper hot- war doctrine, such as the Alliance, or the occasional clued up Imperial renegade.

Whoever was running the sensor fit over there was almost certainly an ex fighter pilot, they were handling it exactly like what they were used to. As soon as they spotted and classified the warheads, they went to narrow focus on them.

'Break, independent attack on primary target.' The torpedoes- standard C heavy antiship, capable of doing real damage to a light frigate but not that much of a threat to a heavy frigate, not from only three of them- would be unlikely to reach their apparent target, but they were making an excellent diversion.

There was an interesting blind spot there, when it came to smart missiles. Mostly they weren't, actually. Clean slate, up from first principles, suicide logics, collision course homing. They did get smarter generation by generation, able to home on the target's soft spots, acquired useful tricks programmed into them, but it was still far short of the possible.

Which made the occasional genuinely brilliant weapon, like the separatist sabotage droid droppers, that much more of a nasty surprise when it did show up. The odd wrinkle there was actually arms control treaties. Strictly, legally speaking, the thing wasn't directly a weapon, it was not subject to the same legal restrictions as a device that carried a warhead directly. They could be as intelligent as their builders wanted.

They had been mostly designed and built in the peacetime Old Republic as a repossession agent's tool, which explained a lot- the treaties had mattered but the budget hadn't. Directly lethal missiles and torpedoes were usually mass produced as cheaply as possible to serve the huge and growing requirements of galactic war and later peace enforcement, the possibilities of brilliant rounds largely left fallow.

Although there were suggestions that their logic core had been used for the Plexus Droid Vessel couriers, and further dark rumours of attempts to expand that into an independent strategic weapon, which was nobody's business today. The odd behaviour of Black Prince's fighters' heavy torpedoes was, though. A little logic polishing had been resorted to.

The torpedoes were dangerously obvious, rippling yellow energy sheaths- standing waves wrapped around the warhead that served as drive and eye, cheaper on a round for round basis than any solid drive unit that could deliver the same thrust and agility. Just because they could be seen didn't mean they could be stopped, though.

Especially not if they had the wit to sense and dodge incoming fire. The three torpedoes were moving as much sideways as forwards, z- curving wildly, unpredictably much as the fighters had, easing their way forwards around the storm.

Some of the fighters thought, as doctrine required them to think, that they were expendable- could be sacrificed to save and protect the much more heavily manned and more expensive parent vessel. That they should get as close to the incoming as it took to score hits, and trust to their lasers to wreck the warhead before the salvage fuses could function.

It was a nice theory. Some of them with slightly more wit than the rest- not that hard, as the Empire did prefer it's TIE/ln pilots to be basically rabid with no sense of self preservation- broke off to chase the Avengers, not wanting to be within the blast radius of those things when they did detonate. Even if hunting top range superfighters in a basic /ln was not exactly an act of safety.

Somebody finally had the sense to switch to active sweep and pin down the twenty- four renegade fighters, get valid contacts and tracks on them; fire reached out again, and one of the Avengers was hit, shot through the after module- hyperdrive wrecked, shield generator blew up like a blue-violet bubble bursting, one sublight engine ripped off and sent spiralling away.

Combat kill, and left the thing burning and radiating- there was just time, before the reactor burst, to as the tumble took the fighter's bow across the group of loyalist ships, for Psi Seven to release all four torpedoes on independent homing , then pull the loud handle. Maybe a fraction late, but the rounds were loosed and that was what mattered.

Space was starting to fill with darts of green light now, and racing fighters; matter of readiness, of reaction time, who got their way. The defenders had got off to a bad start. Weigh the odds- how much was a dead Interdictor worth, how much risk- how many to turn and fight, to slow the pursuit? All, none, a handful?

How much fighting would it be necessary to do to get the warheads through? Interdictors were another of those designs that had been rushed through to serve a tactical need, raw and unfinished. They had good anti- bomber defence, could shoot up the merchants and small escort ships they were often called upon to intercept, but there were a couple of gaps in their capabilities.

The fact that they couldn't fight in their own weight class was not much of a matter from an Avenger cockpit. Their lack of police, disabling weapons- ion cannon- was Imperial fashion, and doctrine. Better to physically disable, blow bits off a fleeing blockade runner, than take a chance on how resistant and multiply redundant they might be. Besides, resisting arrest should be painful and expensive.

Much more serious was their minimal point defence fit. It was all in the long guns; kill the bombers and you'll never need to kill their missiles. Another elegant theory killed by inconvenient facts- as several Interdictors had been by hunting Rebel strike fighter wings. Two crack squadrons of Avengers should be able to do at least that well.

The loyalists had a problem- it was becoming increasingly difficult for them to fire on the Avengers without also shooting into the cloud of their own TIEs. Cease fire or accept casualties. Casualties were, it turned out, quite acceptable.

The first of the standard C warheads fired into the Acclamator's fighter stream decided it was unlikely to get a bigger basket, so detonated in the middle of a cloud of the fighters that were trying to bring it down- twenty- two of them killed by their own operational doctrine as much as by protonic detonation.

The other two split, both taking advantage of the room the TIEs were suddenly willing to give them to dart for empty spots, one of them bluffing. Ordered in chase- wondering if they were living their last seconds, if following orders would actually keep them alive at all- with noticeable reluctance, they did.

The satirist's version was that near death experiences that you live through progressively unfit you for fighter duty, that was the theory. And as there weren't many uses for a burnt out light fighter pilot, it was actually a mercy to get them killed, they'd only be unhappy otherwise. Much of the alliance and more than a few TIE men believed it. It was close enough to the truth for jazz.

One of the warheads took a very close shot, but fatally not direct; enough to rip open the energy sheath, but not an actual touch on the head, enough to stop it- but not enough to wreck it badly enough to prevent the salvage fusing deciding to blow. Small bag on that , four kills- but the ship's own area defence lasers had accounted for another dozen, and the crossfire was getting denser.

So far the renegades had had the edge, but there were lots of ways to lose an edge, and one of them was to get complacent. Eta Ten was starting to play games with the defenders; draw fire and dart away, hover long enough to draw another cone,dart away, get them frustrated enough to chase him and ignore the rest- at least, that was the charitable interpretation.

Playing silly buggers was much more likely; wait a heartbeat too long to dodge and boom- which is what happened, three light turbolasers simultaneously through the cockpit ball.

Reasonable exchange ratio, about what they needed for complete mutual annihiliation, but as that was not the point of the exercise, perhaps it was lacking a certain something. Come to think of it backup wouldn't be wasted.

Independent attack meant each fighter fired when they were within range, or thought they had as clear shot. There was not going to be one single volley from one single point, no sense making things that easy for the defenders. As the Avengers came within the radius, distorted by vector, that would loose their missiles independently. Bad move for simple homers, mediocre for smarter warheads, good for brilliant.

Space was big, but not that big. The space within the cone of fire seemed extremely small. They could outdistance the fighters behind, because they had to evade too, to chase them into the green rain of death. The ones that tried to cut the corner were the ones that ran into loyalist laser bolts.

There was a long frozen moment as they crossed the feasible firing line, and the dilemma posed itself; exposure to the defences was, obviously, dangerous. The torpedoes would gain from being fired close in, they would have more thrust to evade defensive fire and make more radical terminal approach moves. Balancing one factor against the other, with the added complication of ego.

Nobody, even in the face of real and actual danger, wanted to be the first to shoot and run. Somebody would- but perhaps too late, probably, left to themselves- and what the hell were they all still doing following orders anyway?- they would be screwing their guts down to avoid shooting too soon, they would actually release too close.

Eta One took the command responsibility, helped by a heavy impact on his rear shields. Not a laser-although there were more than a few of those about. One of the fighters in chase must have been hit by a turbolaser bolt that didn't couple at all, just blew straight through. Pilot killed and the thing broke up, not exploded, one of the engines flew free and bounced off the Avenger's shields before spinning away and burning out.

Enough was enough. Three warheads shot off at the Interdictor, then a z- axis roll, would have been a bunt turn in atmosphere, the fourth heavy torpedo fired back at the pack of chasing fighters. Kriff, there were a lot of them.

Knowing they were there wasn't the same as having them right there shooting at you. They were probably the biggest threat to the torpedoes, fire and forget, they could make their own way to the target- if the defending fighters could be kept off them.

Could the defenders' own lasers be trusted to do that? The threat globe was almost solid, it was getting harder to find free space to dodge to; Eta Eight's being hit and bursting, one warhead still on board, was convincing- the entire point of sending an Avenger unit had been to hit and run. 'Loose your rounds then get out, escape vector eighteen ascend fifty-four.' Outsystem and above the ecliptic plane.

The cone of fire the Avengers were trailing behind them was effective shielding, and the loyalist TIEs were starting to learn from experience.
Only three of them had fallen to the attackers' direct fire, but the butchers' bill from detonating heavy warheads and being caught in their own defensive crossfire was cripplingly high. Eight, maybe ten squadrons?

It was a textbook example of how 'at all costs' was really a gift to the enemy. And the worst part was how few of them the Avengers could actualy claim as kills.

The last of the original diversionary warheads detonated; there was an interesting flutter as the defending fighters tried to close on and hit it, realised it would likely blow up on them, fell back, were ordered in again, tried to get close enough to hit it without getting close enough to be zapped by it, were ordered in again by their controllers, fluttered and fought shy again, then the warhead regcognising the pattern went onto classic proximity fuse mode, waited for the maximum pK to peak and then just begin to drop, blew.

Semidirected mode, a lance of fire reaching out for the Acclamator, not actually enough to get through the shields but enough to rock the ship and throw up walls of light outside their windows, and most usefully to scare. Another fourteen defending TIEs gone, hit hard enough to blow up or break up. Most of the renegades had the same fleeting thought, remembering their own time in basic TIEs; how the kriff did any of us survive?

Still, their own rounds were away and it was fleeing time. Not that it was time to stop taking risks. Of ninety- six warheads, seventy-four had been fired at the primary target; thirteen lost outright, nine fired at secondary, diversionary or defence suppression targets. Four attackers lost, so many TIE Fighters taken out like flies in a blowtorch that only a rough estimate was possible.

The heart of that estimate was that an overeager defence coordinator had set the value of the lives of his own fighter screen at zero, overcorrected for the classic Imperial error of being reluctant to waste time deploying them, and managed to commit a far more serious error thereby.

The defensive screen had been butchered, massive physical and in all probability catastrophic morale loss. Even without hits on the primary target, it was a successful raid.

That primary target was very likely to be hit, of course. Minimal point defence, and the dual purpose/area defence guns they had would not be enough to track and hit the too- smart warheads. There were certainly ways it could have been run far better, but Shulmar had gambled that it wouldn't be, and so far it had paid off.

One decision left to make. Keep running- the thrust edge over the fighters still in close pursuit was enough to break clear, and head for the fringes of Interdictor range; or out to the edges of effective area defence fire, hover there and taunt them, try and invite them out; or start a furball here and now.

Now that they were renegades, maybe they ought to be vaguely democratic about it? With heavy emphasis on the vaguely. It had been a wild ride so far. Not much trigger finger work, but lots of flying.

Risk and danger and much explodery, and losses. They would be up for it, but not straight away. Withdraw, pick off what came after them, then head back in to join up with and cover for the later attack waves. That made sense.

Didn't want to start slowing down while they were still within range. Pick a point- there, mark on map, send to the other units. 'Eta, Psi, rendesvous and match velocities with target force at marked point. We'll wait for the second strike then join and cover their run in.' This democracy lark was looking like it was going to be easy.

The primary target had got to the next page in the manual, and figured out what they should have done from the beginning. Predicted- fire area shoots, and use the fighters essentially as mobile point defence turrets flanking the approach path of the warhead cloud, out of arc of the guns. Bit late.

On full rate the light turbolasers could put out an impressive volume of fire- eight by fives, five megatons worth of heat in each bolt and eight bolts a second. Against small agile targets that could feel and jink away from e touch of active fire control, it wasn't enough. Power too high and rate far too low.

Sometimes being a smart warhead simply meant having the intelligence to die quietly without disturbing your brothers. They were fused to avoid warhead fratricide; would wait until they were clear of other active torps before letting the salvage fuse have its' way.

More of the defending fighters fell to that. Four warheads were hit cleanly, destroyed before they could detonate; two were not. Five by defensive fire and eight by jamming.

Fifty- six hit. For what was officially- for her special functions- rated as a heavy but in practise was towards the low end of medium weight frigate, especially with the giant domes sticking out, that was beyond the bounds of the survivable.

Close; she took the first twenty- two on her shielding, but the rest melted and blasted into armour, hull, fittings, until the four grav generators overloaded and exploded in a surreally invisible explosion that showed it's sign in the twisted, spaghettified shapes of what was left of the glowing- hot hulk.

That made two. Another pair of the things remaining, between the renegade destroyer and her fighter wing and deep uncharted space.

Already in uncharted space but much less happy about it, there was a fleet logistics ship and a disabled destroyer. And an increasingly irate rear admiral. If that pair of Rebel fighters had not turned up, the Chiss was thinking, there are only two factors that would prevent me from wishing I had arranged it myself.

One of them being that they are of a degree of likelihood set by Rebel thought processes to summon their friends; the other being that I am far from certain the political action group would not quite like me dead also.

I think I have contacts there that are still reliable, but how to be sure. The prospect of imminent demise has certainly concentrated the tender crew's minds wonderfully, they are eliminating the difficulties quickly and well; how quickly depends on the Alliance, which depends on Vader. They must be aware that nothing, no casualties they could cause are enough to shake his single mindedness.

One motive eliminated. On the other hand, the tender is a prize that actually helps them escape, in the medium term. There is an easy escape option that they must realise we can take, and that would be best blocked by instant action however poorly orchestrated, rather than allowing time for the tender to take my flagship in tow and jump out. The delay is probably due to argument within their ranks- whether this objective is worth serving.

A call for assistance would be debatably useful. To the sector group perhaps, who would be eager for the chance not to be so totally overshadowed by Vader`s elite. (Very dubiously elite, some of them. I suspect the reason I have done so little rebel hunting is that Palpatine suspects I would try to turn them to my political advantage. If only it were actually so easy.)

The transport contains a useful number of replacement fighters, and perhaps they could be employed; the Grey Wolf has her spares on board, but it would be an interesting game trying to manoeuvre them out of a bay that was still shut down. There was a contingency plan to do so, of course, the most sensible first ships away would actually be long range scouts, shuttles and gunboats that could go and see what was afoot.

Two things then happened. The Alliance decided it was worth taking a swing at the paralysed star destroyer, and their raiding force- mostly second line craft, two squadrons of Y-wings escorted by two of Z- 95s-began to make transition, started to emerge to play their part.
They missed their entry- the tender and destroyer were moving fairly quickly in real space, enough to give a hyperspace ambusher a long trek from last recorded position to where they actually were. Significant warning time.

It was a simple thing to do but enough to buy time, enough for brute force and ignorance launch methods and for a distress signal to the local sector group. That was the point at which fate,or destiny, performed a quadruple cross.

Nerveless' Provisional Strike Wing was one of the formations that received the signal, and it fell on very interested ears. They had come by their captain in extremely odd circumstances, and they had naturally been quite interested in how and why. He didn't seem to be keeping very good security on his personal files, so...

There had been a quiet conspiracy among those who had found out what he was hiding, and the biggest question was to what extent he had left it out for them to find. Bait? How, for who? It was abominable, treasonous, horrifying- who gained from knowing this? Who gained from letting any of it be known? What was the point of telling anyone? Mostly those who believed we were the bad guys already had ceased to care.

The stormtroopers tended to shrug. Not their problem. The fighter pilots were largely indifferent- evil means having a wider target selection. A few of the crew did get as far as thinking about it. What do you do when it seems that the captain is about to mutiny? Not like any of them were finding Imperial service particularly wonderful. Hadn't been much of a career so far.

Rather quit than go to fight for the other cause, though. Most of them just wanted out, no commitment to anything. Not at all happy about hanging around with a ship with a dangerous reputation, commanded by a raving maniac, who had wished another raving maniac upon them. Being warlords of the star lanes really wasn't all it was cracked up to be.

This scheme to use captured pirate freighters as hyperspace tugs for the fighter wing sounded mad to begin with, and madder the more you thought about it and what it was meant to achieve. Commitment to cause was all good, but what cause would that be, exactly? The cause he certainly didn't seem to believe in any more- the cause most of them wanted out of?

The pilots, the marines on board were still among the ranks of the believers. Uncertain of the loyalty of their ship and shipmates, some of them were starting to wonder if they had been set up. Not yet sure, but suspicious.

They decided that higher orders took precedence; the Rear- Admiral' s call for support superseded their own direct orders. Most of the rebel ships had nav computers. They could go where it seemed necessary to go. Assisting the electronically compromised Grey Wolf seemed the best thing to do.
The only purpose in my still being here is the stories and the people who come to read them. About all else, I no longer care.

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Post by Simon_Jester » 2014-02-07 01:06pm

I'm a little confused about Thrawn's situation- in a nutshell, what's he been up to and why?

Also, I have to wonder about Olghaan's reaction to the sudden torpedoing of one of his interdictors. He can't have wanted it, probably expected it to not happen that way- what was the pattern of order, counterorder, disorder that allowed it to take place? Given direct supervision Olghaan would have done a better job than that, which of his commands were misunderstood or implemented wrongly to permit such a disaster?
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Post by Vianca » 2014-02-07 01:36pm

Oops, try killing you loyalist and earning a medal for it, since it put them in the right place on the right time.
Atleast two parties get a :WTF:
Nothing like the present.

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Post by Eleventh Century Remnant » 2014-02-07 02:26pm

He was backstabbed, by Jorian Lennart. I did say they didn't have a very good working relationship...they got the full version of the intrusion package Ineffable was hit by only part of; Lennart's rationale for this was that he expected to be found expendable, as is indeed happening, and resorted to making himself of ongoing value to the investigation by removing and scrambling such of the evidence as had been presented to that point, so that he is the only one who has all the pieces.

The object of this was to oblige the rear- Admiral to come after him, because a rescue mission would be really good right now. All right, it's not exactly a conventional call for assistance, but you expect simplicity here?

It may not happen, because through what fragments have emerged, superior background knowledge and political intuition, Thrawn has already- and accurately- guessed at the central piece of the puzzle. He also had at least one other job to do, rolling up the Rebel logistic support network on Corellia- one reason why his personal yacht is now expendable, it was observed doing so.

Olghaan will be trying to identify the course which does the most good for the least damage, and not to let his anger run away with itself and demand too many heads, because that was just error compounded by error multiplying together to disaster. Avengers are hard to stop at the best of times, but that- actually, that would actually be a good place to start the next chapter.

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Post by New-Shadow » 2014-02-07 06:38pm

Uh ECM, I may be missing something here, but since when is an Acclamator-class a fighter carrier? Admittedly, most of my knowledge of the class is from the Wizards Star Wars d20 RPG, but last I knew they were ships that could land on a planet and disgorge a crapload of troops, or were modified to shoot planetary shield-killing torps? Am I thinking of a different class, or was this one modified to carry fighters instead of troops?

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Post by Eleventh Century Remnant » 2014-02-07 08:10pm

It's an Acclamator all right, but when you take into account some of the EU on the subject (and my personal include/discard filter revolves around "does it make the universe more interesting?"), the list of versions and variations gets less straightforward.

The Ecliptic class, which Luke's old friend Biggs Darklighter served on, when it finally turned up in visual media it was the spitting image of an Acclamator. There is also a star frigate, without name, that given the dates (ten? years before Phantom Menace) possibly Pellaeon's father served on- again, indistinguishable from an Acclamator. There are other media that note the existence of an Acclamator- II, more of a dedicated gunship and attack escort.

So we have four ships of more or less the same shape, wedge with clipped, 'squared wingtips', small bridge tower complex and long tail, distinctive enough to be if not exactly related then at least very strongly convergent evolution, and they were probably not as groundbreaking as previously thought.

The way I have it written up, and what is true for the purposes of the fic, is that the original, many years ago type was a medium multirole frigate of the late Old Republic, probably an attempt to replace the old Dreadnaught class and superior in almost every respect except cheapness. Good idea, never caught on for budget reasons.

When the clone wars looked about to start, because it was a reasonably new, modern, efficient design, this original type was razee'd on paper- stripped down to act as a fast troop transport. (The Acclamator class really are unreasonably fast for an amphib. That their drives were originally intended for a much heavier vessel seems a useful explanation.)

The original version was tidied up and simplified, and put into production alongside the troop transports as the medium turbolaser armed Ecliptic class; Biggs' ship. Problem; how do you escort something that fast? The Ecliptics are thicker skinned, heavier framed, tougher but slower. The Acclamator- II was the result, and I have been calling them Meridian class for long enough now that I don't intend to change.

That is the upgrade from the Acclamator assault frigate, the heavy escort intended to keep up with it, and is only a little short of qualifying as a light destroyer. However, Imperial doctrine changes. The drop complement of the Acclamator isn't enough. Self escort isn't acceptable any more. Standard Imperial practise is regiment, battlegroup, corps deployments- which last would be standing room only on an Acclamator.

I do assume that in Imperial service, they move to a more multirole loadout, large fighter complement- ten to fifteen squadrons- as well as late civil war vhicles and dropships. They have a lot of bay space available, some probably did become light carriers- rig proper flight decks and maintenance bays and they would be much better for the job than the Escort Carrier.

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Post by New-Shadow » 2014-02-07 10:40pm

Ah. Thank you for the clarification. What Sources I have said that there were many Acclamator variants, and that the Mark II was a planetary shield cracker/gunship variant, so how you have it written up makes some sense. I'll keep your version as head-cannon from now on.

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Post by Eleventh Century Remnant » 2014-02-13 09:06am

Formatting might be slightly screwed up here, trying something a bit different- tactics and zapping are fast and easy to write; politics are hard. (Dogs and demons, again.)

Even at thirty- five kilometres per second per second, it would take too long to make a powered orbit around the planet to be in time to do any good. Advice and orders could reach in time, but Olghaan had just listened to a complete breakdown of command structure, order, counterorder, disorder ending in catastrophe.

Other questions too- how had they known where to attack? How had they managed to come in in a patch of sky that was clear of interdiction? How did a force of small craft operating from a rally point light years away and a ship under a trillion tons of boiling gas get real- time, accurate data? A problem that would need solving- after patching up the pieces of disaster.

By the time he had been able to shout all three screaming idiots down and impose discipline, the damage had been done, the mistakes had been made and were playing themselves out. It wasn't that unlikely an outcome, Avengers were fiendishly difficult to stop at the best of times, but the cost should have been lower.

The three idiots involved had been the senior antifighter coordinator, the commander of the Acclamator fighter wing, and the chief gunnery officer on the heavy frigate Danuvia Meridian, the senior specialist who should have been coordinating the ship gunfire.

The plan and doctrine called for a turbolaser sandwich- use the reach of the fighters to intercept early, beyond effective laser barrage fire density, break up the attack stream and score kills if possible, then pull away to the flanks and herd the attackers into the zone of dense fire once they reached gun range, pick off those who tried to break away.

Those ships without efficient point defence could be joined by up to a quarter of the fighter force, to intercept the bombers and warheads that made it through the outer defences into minimum tracking range. It was a fairly generic plan, not overspecific, adaptable to changing circumstances. That had been the theory. He had not believed that he had left too much room for confusion.

Problem one had occurred when the enemy had emerged on the inner edge of the outer perimeter, already inside most of the fighter intercept zone, and already dispersed. Any decision at this point, even a wrong one, would have been better than hesitation, which was what the senior controller did. Too much contradictory advice from a staff evidently ruled with a gelatin hand.

Worst of all he had audibly hesitated, on the command circuit, asking his subordinates for time to make a decision. Technically what Danuvia's gunnery control had done could be called mutiny, because he had given the order to open fire anyway, against his own superior's word.

The number of small craft one of the ex assault ship Acclamators carried was used to justify a higher rank, a group captain, who went with the new doctrine- argued that the guns could achieve nothing, they would slide between the turbolasers just as the rebels did, had to be fought ship to ship.

The gunners had reacted badly- there had been a mutual exchange of death threats moderated only by the controller reacting very badly and shouting at both of them, learning from previous failure just in time for changing circumstances to ensure that it would be another failure.

Everyone intended to do their own thing, and in reconciling them, the controller managed to achieve the worst possible result. It was obvious that both would act, so he began by trying to go back to the plan it was now too late for, and ordered hold fire from the guns. The gunners refused, and the fighters called them out on it. At about that point the invaders' jamming had passed critical and washed out the defenders' sensor picture.

At that point a blind barrage would have been all they could manage, and should have been done. Between them, two gung ho idiots who were afraid of being thought indecisive- professional suicide- if they took the time to think the problem through and both demanding a clear operational field, and the nominal leader paralyzed by the fear of getting it wrong, they came up with what might have been the worst solution.

From previous operations- time in /fc variant TIEs perhaps- the inventive but utterly useless solution of using the defending fighters to search for the attackers had been suggested. The air group commander needed no further permission, and sortied the lot.

Then the staff transitioned to the next layer of panic, when someone managed to think of synching sensor feeds together and overcoming the Avengers' EW advantage that way- and found they were closer, faster moving and much more heavily armed than they thought.

The entire point of having coordinators was to prevent this happening, prevent the root irrational reactions-  which should have been trained out of them anyway- from taking hold of and dominating the entire process. Not to reduce it to a single point of failure.

There had been sufficient hot words already exchanged that the gunners had no particular desire to cooperate with the fighters, and when the normal, planned safety distances and procedures were overridden by the defence coordinator, they saw nothing wrong in opening fire regardless of the friendlies in the way.

All four attacking fighters that had been shot down had been so by gunfire, the light TIEs had nothing to show for their sacrifice. Nothing at all. The entire purpose of iron discipline, steely adherence to doctrine and depleted uranium clubs to beat junior officers over the head with was so that such unstructured, futile nonsense did not happen.

Except that it had been a contributory factor. A personal disagreement had, instead of being quashed by the system, been magnified by it into a military disaster.

Not the first time something like that had happened under the Imperial system; there wasn't enough war to go round to weed out the halfwits, and rank and promotion in most sector groups was political. Even promoting people to the level of their incompetence would have been better than what usually happened, which was that they were promoted to the level of their influence.

These local heroes tended to behave like spoilt children when told what to do by central command, and it was so very, very rarely justified by actual abilities- there was only one in a thousand if that that didn't behave like something out of comic opera when confronted by professionals on the other side.

Being great paper warriors, their efficiency reports rarely reflected the truth. Which was frequently that they were worse than useless. The antifighter coordinator and his staff were culpable. The group captain was dead at the protonic hands of an enemy torpedo, which was one down.

Maybe this is why he defected, Olghaan thought of Lennart; couldn't face the halfwits who play games badly with other people's lives any more, could no longer stand being part of this bloody, futile shambles. For a hardened professional, it's easier to put up with efficient tyranny and cruelty than it is to tolerate kriffing Amateur Night. He was sorely tempted to have them all killed, but that was how things never managed to get any better.

'Flag to Fighter Control. Is there a marine guard detachment present? Yes, good. Marines; there are heads that need to roll and I do not have time for line by line analysis. Who dissented from that shambles? Who spoke out against it and tried to get it right?.  Who do you think deserves a second chance? Spare those you think deserve it, shoot the controller and all the bloody fools who cost half your fighter cover.'

Summary, arbitrary, and much less than they deserved. If it all ever came to inquiry it would be a relatively minor item, which somehow made it worse. Should have done it sooner. There were shouts, screams, a couple of blaster shot, the sound of the heavy doors coming down, the scream of a melting loudspeaker. Apparently the set of the empty sets had struck again.

There might have been a couple of minor injustices in there, but the reason to blow them all up must have been because the troopers no longer trusted anyone happy in that company or trained in that school. There may have been junior officers straining at the leash to show how it should be done,  but there was no time to distinguish the unlucky from the incompetent.

Black Prince had twelve squadrons of fighters, and nine squadrons of combat small craft- transport squadrons consisted of fewer craft, but it was a lot all told, and they were bound to try again. They would know that the defence was expecting them to do exactly that, and come up with something to beat the defence's expected reaction.

Which would have to be? The first wave of attackers hadn't jumped out. They could easily turn and thrust beyond interdictor reach, jump back to their rally point, but hadn't. That was as good as a dribvert in the newscasts. What would it take to stop them though? Full strength against their leading edge had been mostly squandered.

Move Falcata to join and take control of the frigate group, which would give some protection against the fighters but would also invite the renegade destroyer to attack. Was there any good reason why they could not duplicate the renegade's circumnavigation of the planet in hyperspace? No- they may lose in a game of hyperspace leapfrog, be outreacted in a sequence of moves, but one they could do.

Would the destroyer get there in time, that was a problem. Unlikely; could be there faster themselves. Which might provide the basis of an ambush- but only if whatever he was using for sensors were sufficiently indistinct as not to notice. Which they should be- unless. Hm. Think ubiqtorate, not navy. With intelligence service hard and software, what would be possible?

Holonet transponder following, perhaps- but that would not give away the position of the interdiction lobes, which they had to have known in order to emerge where they did. 'All ships- investigate and report any abnormal holonet traffic.'

Holonet hacking was less likely than subspace, less well developed- and surely would work through the permanent storm of a gas giant's lower atmosphere even less well than it did through mere dense- pack asteroids. Couldn't fit one on an assault boat, either.
Assume years of theft and kitbashing, dubiety going back long before he was officially renegade, and what possibilities emerge? What physical possibilities would it be necessary to exploit in order to- the cheating bastard, he had stolen a hyperspace orbiting scanner, hadn't he?
Those things never lived up to their full promise, but they could easily distinguish large, bright objects like a starship- or a gravity field- against even the most turbulent background. Well enough for traffic analysis, at least, if not cryptanalysis.  Not only is he cheating, he's doing it in style. He can see everything we do. We can't make a move without it being known.
What was it he was supposed to have said? The bloodstripe is awarded to men who beat long odds, but the job of a commanding officer is to rig the odds, to cheat to give their own side maximum possible advantage. Well, he was cheating in style, damn him- now how to overcome that?

It could still be possible to surprise him by making a move he misreads, selling him a dummy- but the false and the real move would have both to be viable in their own right if they are not too easily seen through. Can't afford the losses we've already taken- certainly no more. Pulling a more capable unit out of and sending a smaller one into danger is only substituting a lesser sacrifice for a greater.
Ineffable does need a rescue- the local lifeforms they're reporting, if there was a sort of bird of prey that ate space slugs, they would be it. He can keep ambushing and killing would be rescuers until he runs out of energy, which is too long away to be a feasible objective with his gunners as efficient as they are- aside from the cost.
The only other options are not to rescue, or to commit in sufficient force to make a real fight of it, to win- and in that environment with all the advantage on his side, I'm not convinced we could. If getting the drop on him failed expensively, and searching for him and flushing him out are both dead options, then what is not- what can I expect to do and have succeed?

Strip away his- unfair is a damn' stupid word to use in war, his extraordinary advantage. Find and kill that hyperspace scanner. Swiftsure is actually the right ship to do that job- one of the odd jobs she had had to do from time to time was emplacing them, and it was a fiddly, rigmarolish, precision dependent job that usually demanded iteration after iteration in sim until they got it right, then frequently more than a few attempts to get it right in practise.

Considering the amount of hopping in and out of hyperspace it often involved, it would be more energy efficient to burn the planet down to the bedrock than set up one of those overgrown listening posts to see if they were actually guilty or not. Black Prince's scanner was almost certainly one that had gone astray, deposited in a not quite perfectly regular parking orbit and gone wandering off.

They certainly didn't go through anything as daft as that every time they wanted to use it. Which meant that they were out into new territory, something most of the fleet thought couldn't be done, but which obviously actually could. Nothing (except the safeties, but who cared about those) stopped the thing being switched on in its' travel carriage, but they wouldn't have one; improvise one, something that did the same job.

Could it really be that simple? They basically carried the bloody thing as a contaminant, as a float in the fuel toruses? They were designed to store tachyonic matter, no reason why they couldn't store ordered and organised objects as well as particle slush.

That would work, it was just completely sideways thinking, but if you want to get round an obstacle that is what you need. It also meant they couldn't get at it- might be able to match their trick, but couldn't stop them doing it- couldn't chase it to shoot it down. Damn.

You couldn't fit much of hyperspace scan gear to a small boat, but you could fit one of the old holonet mobiles to a fighter even. There would be a thread that an s- tracker could find out to their rally point- but that was worse than useless information, as trawling for it would involve dispersing the formation.

It was hard enough for them to defend themselves all together, they would be picked to pieces apart. After that strike fighter raid,  forget the concept of bait. The fighters would need to touch down at some point to rearm, surely- almost all of the renegade's fighters had long stay life support, fuel and ordnance were much closer limits. Where- not on their parent ship, down there in the goo. 

Civil engineering isn't going to help- we could try mining him out in the industrial sense of the term, but the logistics of it- it would take vastly more gas tankers than the empire could spare or that could possibly fail to attract notice. Not an option. It's not solid enough for resonance mining, either.

At this point there look like singularly few winning options. Falcata is probably going to be attacked when she joins the frigate group,  and- there's nothing particularly to stop us doing a close orbit of the planet in hyperspace, is there? Playing catch-up but when the enemy is several nasty tricks ahead, well. It is also a move that it is not possible his scanners can read.

Question then becomes whether or not he can anticipate it, whether he's getting cocky enough to think of the large ships of the group in the same category as the bloody amateurs. The amount of blood it might take to feed his overconfidence to that degree I do not care to give him- even if that is exactly how I began this, looking for disposable shields to blunt the edge of his blade.

Victory is hard to achieve with a navy of the dead, and sacrifice plays have rather lost their appeal. Victory for him consists of destroying the task force sent after him; which he can then run, engage, join the rebels, go independent, or even use our dead bodies as a platform for his manifesto, whatever it is. He knows by now we won't come in after him, lost too much doing that already.

Right now, in his position, I'd trail Falcata- leave Ineffable, she'll be trying to unscramble her computers for days, she's a mission kill- engage the beam destroyer in the upper cloud layers, then take out the other Interdictor with the frigate group. That is a chance for us-if we can make that short jump through highly curved space, we can arrive in time to support Falcata in as close to a straight fight as we're likely to get.
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Post by Vianca » 2014-02-13 03:15pm

I hope Merrinnan used a better way to mount that sensor.
I mean, gravity plating is quite handy & plentyfull, so are anti-grav units.

Good chapter, so they are going to shoot-up their own ship?
I can see lots of wacko's happening.
Say Remnant, if Mirrannon gets his hand on a gravity well generator, would he alter it so that the Black Prince could jump from a gravity well like a planet?
Just a odd thought.
Also, Star Wars HAS subspace, yes, that one.
How much does Mirrannon knows of it?

Say, didn't those guys try & get Prince her refit status i terms of what she has onboard?
Although I can see Thrawn making it all clasified.
Anyway, till the next post.
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Post by Andras » 2014-02-13 03:21pm

IIRC they have ~4 gravity devices called Rattlers that can be used as grav wells or tractors.

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Post by RecklessPrudence » 2014-02-14 10:09am

Great update ECR! And am I wrong in hearing this line fragment:
Eleventh Century Remnant wrote:- the cheating bastard, he had stolen a hyperspace orbiting scanner, hadn't he?
in a half-admiring tone?

It's wonderful seeing professionals in action. By the way, recently reread this from the start of Arc 1 - just as good as I remembered!
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Post by Eleventh Century Remnant » 2014-02-14 01:35pm

Yes, you are. Olghaan did make mistakes earlier getting up to speed, but is with it now.

The Rattlers were an innovation- or more likely a rediscovery- by Corellian Engineering, a multirole gravity projector. They were trying to sell them to the entire Imperial Starfleet, and talked (with very little persuasion necessary) Lennart into trying them out, the demonstration model. This plan may have gone 'foop', but that doesn't mean it wasn't a good idea to begin with.

Vianca, the fuel torii are the right thing for the job because Hyperspace Orbiting Scanners exist in hyperspace, and bypass most defences by looking down at bradyonic space from it. The torii are intended to contain tachyonic matter anyway, so seal a loop off and use it. They probably do include subspace technology anyway to create the necessary closed spacelike curves. (Remember the thing labelled "eldritch gizmo; do not touch"?)

Jumping out from a gravity well is- well, it's theoretically possible anyway, for an analogue value of possible starting at 'absolutely suicidal' and not improving very much if at all with energy over area. It's not just the curvature, it's the chaotically interacting burbles in the curvature that get you. Locally flattening that isn't going to help very much, it'd still be suicidal.

On the other hand, there may be something else they can do. Hm.

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Post by Andras » 2014-02-14 01:42pm

There was a device in the Correllian Trilogy IIRC that allowed a starship to bypass a gravity shadow.

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Post by Vianca » 2014-02-14 02:35pm

Nice to know I've given you a idea, Remnant.
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Post by Simon_Jester » 2014-02-14 09:24pm

Eleventh Century Remnant wrote:Yes, you are. Olghaan did make mistakes earlier getting up to speed, but is with it now.

The Rattlers were an innovation- or more likely a rediscovery- by Corellian Engineering, a multirole gravity projector. They were trying to sell them to the entire Imperial Starfleet, and talked (with very little persuasion necessary) Lennart into trying them out, the demonstration model. This plan may have gone 'foop', but that doesn't mean it wasn't a good idea to begin with.
Oh, I don't know. I can hear the sales pitch now.

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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Post by Vehrec » 2014-02-15 10:39pm

Andras wrote:There was a device in the Correllian Trilogy IIRC that allowed a starship to bypass a gravity shadow.
An artificially generated interdiction field. That was dealt with by throwing multiple sacrificial hyperdrive cores into it's maw.

Hardly an ideal solution.
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Post by Crazedwraith » 2014-02-16 06:29am

It's called the H.I.M.S There's nothing in the wookiepedia description about it burning out hyperdrive cores. But I've not read the novels myself.

And it only allows you to fly through a gravity well starting from hyperspace. Not engage your hyperdrive while in gravity well.
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Re: Hull 721, plot arc the second

Post by Crayz9000 » 2014-02-17 03:01pm

The "static hyperspace bubble" was generated by basically simulating the effect of a hyperdrive core undergoing a catastrophic failure, IIRC -- essentially keeping four or more hyperdrive cores operating, killing the main hyperdrive as soon as the interdiction field is detected, and then letting the sacrificial cores blow out in sequence while the ship's momentum continued to carry it through hyperspace.

Of course, the inertial side-effects of the core implosions become cumulatively worse, to the point where one of the Bakuran destroyers came flying out of hyperspace tumbling end-over-end with severe power issues.
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