The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by U.P. Cinnabar » 2018-09-01 07:51am

Least I can do while flat on my back.
"Beware the Beast, Man, for he is the Devil's pawn. Alone amongst God's primates, he kills for sport, for lust, for greed. Yea, he will murder his brother to possess his brother's land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home and yours. Shun him, drive him back into his jungle lair, for he is the harbinger of Death.."
—29th Scroll, 6th Verse of Ape Law

"The Constitution's a piece of paper. A kick in the head is a jolt."
—Stanley "Ray" Kowalski
"Accuse the other side of that which you are guilty."
---NRA motto

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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2018-09-02 08:57am

Ok, a quick update for you (sorry no new chapter this time), I've got most of the next chapter written and the following one planned, though that will be more of an interlude than an actual one, as it will introduce us to the Warstar Jupiter. These two chapters will close out Act Three and set the stage for Act Four - The Battle for Reach.

While I had initially planned to have the Flood making an appearance when the idiot Covenant let them out of their cage on Installation 05, I'm now wondering if I actually need to - the Halo Array is locked down and ordered to fire on any approaching ship that isn't the Everest or the Keyship, so the bad guys would need a lot of ships to force a landing...or maybe High Charity, I need a way to bring that fat fucker in to the front lines.

Oh, and while I like some of the suggestions, I have chosen the motto for Jupiter - "Vincit Tenebris Lux - Light Conquers Darkness."
Baltar: "I don't want to miss a moment of the last Battlestar's destruction!"
Centurion: "Sir, I really think you should look at the other Battlestar."
Baltar: "What are you babbling about other...it's impossible!"
Centurion: "No. It is a Battlestar."

Corrax Entry 7:17: So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.

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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by fnord » 2018-09-02 09:43am

I'm not sure if the Flood directly would be more suited as a background threat. The Halo installations' response to breakout already handles that role.

05's Monitor going (even further) around the bend and mutinying might fit the bill - what about gubbins left over from prehistoric humaniti (them wot were technological peers to the Forerunners themselves)?
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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2018-09-02 09:55am

Yeah 2401 Penitent Tangent was not the most level-headed AI - and given how bad 343 Guilty Spark got, that's saying something. IIRC Penitent Tangent was in league with the Flood/Gravemind before the Covenant even found Installation 05, so that's something to work in.

The main reason I'm reconsidering including the Flood is that doing so means writing small-scale infantry firefights...and I hate doing that, I can't do it anywhere near as well as I can write heavy ships pounding on each other.
Baltar: "I don't want to miss a moment of the last Battlestar's destruction!"
Centurion: "Sir, I really think you should look at the other Battlestar."
Baltar: "What are you babbling about other...it's impossible!"
Centurion: "No. It is a Battlestar."

Corrax Entry 7:17: So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.

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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by U.P. Cinnabar » 2018-09-02 10:05am

Eternal_Freedom wrote:
2018-09-02 08:57am
Ok, a quick update for you (sorry no new chapter this time), I've got most of the next chapter written and the following one planned, though that will be more of an interlude than an actual one, as it will introduce us to the Warstar Jupiter. These two chapters will close out Act Three and set the stage for Act Four - The Battle for Reach.

While I had initially planned to have the Flood making an appearance when the idiot Covenant let them out of their cage on Installation 05, I'm now wondering if I actually need to - the Halo Array is locked down and ordered to fire on any approaching ship that isn't the Everest or the Keyship, so the bad guys would need a lot of ships to force a landing...or maybe High Charity, I need a way to bring that fat fucker in to the front lines.

Oh, and while I like some of the suggestions, I have chosen the motto for Jupiter - "Vincit Tenebris Lux - Light Conquers Darkness."
Good motto. And, thanks for adding y favorite line of dialogue from the oBSG to your sig. That made my day.
"Beware the Beast, Man, for he is the Devil's pawn. Alone amongst God's primates, he kills for sport, for lust, for greed. Yea, he will murder his brother to possess his brother's land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home and yours. Shun him, drive him back into his jungle lair, for he is the harbinger of Death.."
—29th Scroll, 6th Verse of Ape Law

"The Constitution's a piece of paper. A kick in the head is a jolt."
—Stanley "Ray" Kowalski
"Accuse the other side of that which you are guilty."
---NRA motto

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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by fnord » 2018-09-02 10:06am

If small-scale firefights have to happen because of $STORY, they have to happen. Nothing says they need as much screentime as capital vessels pounding each other to scrap.

Why not do them in the same mould as the cleanup of Chateau Ba'al? The Marines go in, in the background, to apply boot to ass, and all us mob hear of it is reports relayed to viewpoint characters.
A mad person thinks there's a gateway to hell in his basement. A mad genius builds one and turns it on. - CaptainChewbacca

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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by U.P. Cinnabar » 2018-09-02 10:10am

I can see Phil's point of view vis a vis the Flood. They get loose, people get infected, zombie invasion, lather, rinse, repeat.
"Beware the Beast, Man, for he is the Devil's pawn. Alone amongst God's primates, he kills for sport, for lust, for greed. Yea, he will murder his brother to possess his brother's land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home and yours. Shun him, drive him back into his jungle lair, for he is the harbinger of Death.."
—29th Scroll, 6th Verse of Ape Law

"The Constitution's a piece of paper. A kick in the head is a jolt."
—Stanley "Ray" Kowalski
"Accuse the other side of that which you are guilty."
---NRA motto

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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2018-09-02 10:16am

Indeed. There probably will be some firefights but it'll be short scenes for flavour rather than narrating the whole drawn-out thing. As for dealing with a spreading Flood outbreak on a Halo ring, well, Halo 3 showed us that Covenant glassing tactics are an effective method of stopping them, I'd imagine saturation nuclear bombardment or orbital fire from the Nemesis would do just as nicely.

Also, UP cinnabar, no problem. I was watching Living Legend again and I found it far too amusing not to include.
Baltar: "I don't want to miss a moment of the last Battlestar's destruction!"
Centurion: "Sir, I really think you should look at the other Battlestar."
Baltar: "What are you babbling about other...it's impossible!"
Centurion: "No. It is a Battlestar."

Corrax Entry 7:17: So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.

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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by fnord » 2018-09-02 11:37am

Maybe a scene where Marines call in superlaser fire on their own position to prevent a Flood breakout?
A mad person thinks there's a gateway to hell in his basement. A mad genius builds one and turns it on. - CaptainChewbacca

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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2018-09-02 02:30pm

Given the yield of the Warstar's superlaser, they could call it on a target a thousand kilometres away and still fit the definition of "danger close." Don't forget though that the Warstar does have beaming systems, so rapid recovery of trapped troops is a thing.
Baltar: "I don't want to miss a moment of the last Battlestar's destruction!"
Centurion: "Sir, I really think you should look at the other Battlestar."
Baltar: "What are you babbling about other...it's impossible!"
Centurion: "No. It is a Battlestar."

Corrax Entry 7:17: So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.

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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by Sky Captain » 2018-09-03 04:18pm

Have Covenant deployed beaming jammers? During the first engagement Alliance captured Covenant ship by beaming small bombs near vital parts disabling it. Later it no one has attempted to use beaming systems offensively.

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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2018-09-03 04:29pm

That's something I honestly hadn't considered, but I'm going to say that they have - they know from Tranquil Repose that they somehow captured the Legendary Valour - and they know from several combat engagements that the humans can teleport around the battlefield, so it's a reasonable deduction.

The Alliance force hasn't tested this yet because for Operation: Sucker Punch beaming systems weren't part of the plan - and every engagement since then has been a desperate scramble to drive off attacking forces so it hasn't come up.
Baltar: "I don't want to miss a moment of the last Battlestar's destruction!"
Centurion: "Sir, I really think you should look at the other Battlestar."
Baltar: "What are you babbling about other...it's impossible!"
Centurion: "No. It is a Battlestar."

Corrax Entry 7:17: So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.

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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by fnord » 2018-09-06 12:22am

How will beaming Marines out if some of them are already Flood-infected?
A mad person thinks there's a gateway to hell in his basement. A mad genius builds one and turns it on. - CaptainChewbacca

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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by fnord » 2018-09-06 02:10am

Some wombat wrote:
2018-09-06 12:22am
How will beaming Marines out if some of them are already Flood-infected?
... beaming Marines out help if some...


blast.
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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2018-09-06 04:46pm

I would imagine they would institute quarantine procedures if they need to beam Marines out of potentially-infected areas. They know about the Flood after all, unlike the poor, dumb Covenant.
Baltar: "I don't want to miss a moment of the last Battlestar's destruction!"
Centurion: "Sir, I really think you should look at the other Battlestar."
Baltar: "What are you babbling about other...it's impossible!"
Centurion: "No. It is a Battlestar."

Corrax Entry 7:17: So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.

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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by DKeith2011 » 2018-09-06 06:15pm

Random question; Since the Asgard are capable of building StarGates (iirc), will that tech be shared with the Halo-verse after the dust has settled?

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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2018-09-06 06:21pm

Potentially, yes. Possibly jump-gate technology as well.
Baltar: "I don't want to miss a moment of the last Battlestar's destruction!"
Centurion: "Sir, I really think you should look at the other Battlestar."
Baltar: "What are you babbling about other...it's impossible!"
Centurion: "No. It is a Battlestar."

Corrax Entry 7:17: So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.

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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by fnord » 2018-09-07 02:29am

Is the difference (stargate vs jumpgate) merely of degree - jump gates just being stargates dialed up past 11 - or of kind?
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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by jayel » 2018-09-07 06:26am

more like jump gates in Mass Effect (Ship gates)

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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2018-09-07 12:48pm

Jump-gates are a similar technology to Stargates but a very different manifestation. Kobolian FTL drives are a refined and improved version of the experimental wormhole drive on Atlantis. The jump-gates are scaled-up versions of that technology, but the jump-drive itself is external to the ship. Having jump-gates at both ends simplifies the calculations needed (which is what lets them do a two-jump transit from Terra to Atlantis via Midway Base, a total distance of 3.5 million light-years) but the power requirements are immense. Midway Base has enough jump-gates to move an entire Battle Group in one go, and as such the structure is almost all devoted to power generation. The Nemesis couldn't power a Warstar-sized jump-gate on her own, even with every generator devoted to the task.

The power requirements are an absolute bitch and the gates are difficult to build, which is why they are so far only used on the Terra-Midway-Atlantis route. The TCN felt that the costs of the technology were worth it to be able to cut the transit time from seventeen and a half days (at their fastest jump-cycle for max-range jumps) to an hour. Using jump-gates for shorter distances just isn't feasible, as normal FTL drives have 25k light-year ranges, so four jumps gets you clear across the galaxy in twelve hours. The UNSC just doesn't have anything far enough away to make such a gate worthwhile. Even going to the Ark would only take eleven or so jumps - and they have the big slipspace portal to use for that trip anyway.
Baltar: "I don't want to miss a moment of the last Battlestar's destruction!"
Centurion: "Sir, I really think you should look at the other Battlestar."
Baltar: "What are you babbling about other...it's impossible!"
Centurion: "No. It is a Battlestar."

Corrax Entry 7:17: So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.

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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by fnord » 2018-09-07 02:40pm

According to recent research (here, frinstance), the Milky Way is actually in the 150-200 kly diameter range, so it would be six to eight jumps in 18 to 24 hours (assuming good charts), but that's a nit.

What's the sustained cycle times on the big jump gates? Half an hour, from your summation - 1 hour, 2 serial stages?

What about war-emergency cycle time (where you pray the damn thing doesn't crap itself)?

Is said cycle time cooling limited, like the spinal superlasers are?

I'm guessing a fully-charged jump gate letting go causes a bit of wear and tear on the surroundings.
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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2018-09-07 05:41pm

The big jump-gates can handle one jump every six hours - Midway Base has two complete sets of gates - one for the Midway-Terra transit and another for Midway-Atlantis. Cycle time is power-limited, cooling isn't an issue but the systems themselves can't hand;e the train of jumps close together, there's a lot of spatial distortion involved. War-emergency cycle is perhaps four hours but no more.

The delay at Midway Base is needed for the ships to transfer from one set of gates to another, the sets have to be fairly separated physically to prevent interference - plus time for the crew and ship systems to recover from the distortion as well.
Baltar: "I don't want to miss a moment of the last Battlestar's destruction!"
Centurion: "Sir, I really think you should look at the other Battlestar."
Baltar: "What are you babbling about other...it's impossible!"
Centurion: "No. It is a Battlestar."

Corrax Entry 7:17: So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.

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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2018-09-07 05:50pm

Interception
UNSC Battle Group Keyes, Outer edge of the Epsilon Eridani system,
1900 hours, August 21st 2552 (UNSC Military Calendar)


Captain Jacob Keyes was sitting on his bridge with a grim but resolved expression on his face. His force had been recalled at best speed to Reach to intercept a pair of Covenant corvettes heading for the system, their prior task of raiding Covenant supply convoys and scouting fleet concentrations forgotten for the moment.

His small force consisted of his new ship the Pillar of Autumn, ten destroyers including his former command the Iroquois and twenty frigates were among the most advanced the UNSC Navy had to offer. They had been improved above and beyond the now-standard upgrades given to the other ships – the used neutrino-ion generators as power sources for their improved shields, they mounted new Tollan-designed ion cannons that had proven very effective against the Covenant shields and sported uprated sublight drives and FTL systems, a set of upgrades that perfectly fitted their role as long-distance raiders.

They’d had several notable successes and Cortana was over the moon at what she had learned and extrapolated from the new systems. The ship’s other passengers, the assembled might of the Spartan-II program were not as satisfied as they hadn’t seen any combat so far – but they were stoic enough to make solid granite envious so only the most perceptive of people could even notice.

Now though they had to take out these Covenant scouts, preferably before they could report what they found. He’d heard rumours of other scouts heading for one of those Halo rings and a fleet heading straight for Earth and that scared the Captain. As brutal as the last weeks had been for the UNSC the prospect of a full-scale Covenant assault on Reach or Earth was enough to freeze the blood of any officer or enlisted who contemplated it. Both worlds had powerful defences but fixed defences alone could not stop a determined attack.

Lieutenant Hall, who like the rest of his command crew from Sigma Octanus (except for Lieutenant Jaggers who had been quietly reassigned) had transferred to the heavy cruiser turned to Keyes and gave her report.

“Covenant scouts approaching the edge of the system, ETA four minutes. Reach Command reports all defences are at General Quarters and ready to engage if they penetrate deeper into the system. FTL drives are charged and ready for jump coordinates from Cortana as soon as the hostiles drop into realspace.”

Lieutenant Hikowa, the weapons officer was next. “Both MACs are charged and ready with three heavy rounds apiece. All thirty ion cannons are online and ready for firing solutions. Archer missile pods one through sixty are armed and ready for launch. Shields are raised at full strength.”

Lieutenant Dominique chimed in as well. “All battle group ships report the same state of readiness, we’re all set sir.”

Keyes nodded at his officers. “Then all we can do is wait. Cortana?” The AI’s hologram appeared beside him. “Calculate and execute the FTL jump as soon as you have a position plotted. All ships will be under full AI control and I want full-spectrum jamming in place as soon as we jump. I don’t want them getting any signals off if we can possibly help it.”

The hologram smiled encouragingly at him. “Aye Captain.”

And so they waited. The clock ticked away as the two Covenant scouts raced closer and closer. The bridge was not silent, no command centre on a major warship could ever be truly silent, but beyond the occasional beeps of non-critical messages passing from station to station or of equally non-critical status updates between people manning various stations there was a distinct lack of conversation. And then…

Cortana followed her orders. She and the other AI’s had established an intership network to share resources as soon as Keyes had given the word; the thirty-one shipboard AI’s represented a truly vast amount of computing power and all of it was now focused on destroying the enemy. Every possible exit point for the two enemy vessels that had better than a 1% probability was calculated with exacting precision and FTL jumps were plotted to bring them to ideal firing positions. This task was made considerably easier with the new ion cannons able to fire in all directions, meaning that on average only one possible FTL jump was needed per thousand possible exit points.

The two stealth corvettes dropped out of slipspace eight-eight thousand kilometres from the UNSC ships and immediately engaged their cloaking devices. What they failed to grasp was that the Pillar of Autumn had also been given the latest Terran and Asgard-designed sensor arrays and was using far more than just the electromagnetic spectrum to track her targets. The EM sensors couldn’t penetrate the cloaking field – but the grav scanners, neutrino detectors and even the extremely subtle hyperspace distortions from the now-dormant slipspace drives gave Cortana and the other AI’s a very precise fix on their position.

The human crews had no warning as the ships suddenly jumped from their original position to their new one, a sensation the crews still found novel – though there was an even split between those who found it exhilarating or nauseating. Cortana had borrowed a tactic from their Terran allies and plotted the jumps to put the UNSC ships in a hemisphere formation centred on the two corvettes, giving every ship clear lines of fire.

On each of the thirty frigates and destroyers four ion cannons locked on the required bearing and opened fire. Another thirty guns mounted on the Pillar of Autumn joined in the salvo – their firing solution was loose enough to not guarantee first-round hits so the AI’s had opted for blanket mass fire – in this case mass fire that would have gutted a Covenant light carrier, never mind a pair of corvettes.

Among the first salvo of a hundred and fifty blue bolts, seventeen found their mark and both corvettes exploded into fragments. The AI’s had performed superbly and had jammed every method of communication known to them to prevent the corvettes reporting what they found. There was however one thing they had not been aware of. Both of these corvettes belonged to the Reclamation Group run by the Prophet of Restriction and as such had rare and unique Forerunner tracking systems built into them – any loss of signal, along with any related data from the sensors, was sent via slipspace to the Prophet’s flagship, the Supercarrier Triumph of the Will. Within a matter of hours the mighty ship would be slipping away from its formation around High Charity, gathering its escorts and heading for the scout’s last known position. The human world called Reach.

HMS Dreadnought, Luna orbit

Even as Keyes and his group was utterly annihilating the pair of Covenant corvettes, the Tau’ri task force was holding position over Earth’s moon, awaiting the Assault Carrier that had slipped past Jellicoe and his fleet. They had a firm lock on the target on long-range sensors and it was clear that the exchanges of fire had hurt the vessel – it was moving slower than expected and its shields seemed to only be at two-thirds strength. Nonetheless it was a powerful enemy vessel rapidly approaching the capital of the human race, so HMS Dreadnought and her smaller escorts were preparing to throw everything they had at the enemy.

The four smaller battlecruisers were somewhat limited in what they could do however. The two Yardships at Reach had managed to fabricate new coilgun ammunition for them, and the plasma beam weapons were fully charged, but their missile cells were seriously depleted. Each ship only had 20 missile cells armed and ready, the rest had been used up in the grinding battles of the past week. This still gave each ship eighty high-yield nuclear missiles, but Covenant point-defence systems had proven just as effective, if not more so than the Cylon systems from years before. With eighty missiles launched they could expect no more than fifteen hits, and none of the ship Captains were willing to empty all their remaining missiles in one battle.

The massive British flagship was in much better shape – her main weapons did not need missiles and their associated fissile materials. Her coilgun turrets, both the smaller secondary weapons and the big primary batteries had full ammo loads and the heavy plasma battery in the bows was ready to go. They just needed a target.

In the flagship’s CIC, buried deep within the armoured hull, Commodore Sir Jonathan Baird knew he faced a more powerful opponent and that it would be a hard fight, but despite that he felt a frisson of anticipation. For the first time, his ship and her escorts were going into action as an independent force rather than an attachment to the larger Kobolian fleet. The UNSC Home Fleet had assembled in low Earth orbit as a backstop, but it had been agreed that HMS Dreadnought would take the lead, making a short-range hyperspace jump to appear in the Assault Carrier’s aft, away from most of the enemy weapon mounts and with perfect targets.

There was only a few minutes left to run. His helm officer had her orders and would not wait for Baird to repeat them – as soon as the enemy ship appeared she would take the task force into position. The Gunnery Commander likewise had his orders to engage as soon as they had the enemy in their sights.

Baird allowed a small grin to form on his usually stoic face. The Royal Navy were going into battle and just as they had so many times before, they would emerge victorious. No other option was even conceivable.

Covenant Assault Carrier Solemn Penance

Regret was not a happy Prophet. He had evaded that enemy trap but his ship had taken some damage that the Huragok engineers had not been able to repair. The slipspace distortion had placed great strain upon the main engines, forcing them to travel on to the target world at a slower speed than normal. Worse, while his ship’s shields had not been compromised the generators had likewise taken a great deal of stress and were not at full capacity. Regret could only hope that there weren’t any other forces waiting for him, one damaged Assault Carrier would not be able to subdue an entire defended world on its own.

The Shipmaster turned to him and nodded. “Hierarch, we are approaching the target world. Sensors are unable to determine if any other human ships are waiting for us. I have placed the ship on full combat alert as a precaution, all weapons are charged and shields are raised at two-thirds strength. I have also taken the liberty of informing High Charity that we were delayed by a human ambush.”

Regret nodded. “Very good Shipmaster. Bring us out halfway between the planet and its moon; that will give us a good sensor picture and give us plenty of room to manoeuvre in case more cursed humans are about.”

The Shipmaster nodded again and turned to carry out his orders. Something he had said though sent Regret’s thoughts off on a tangent. The Covenant had assumed that these new ships with their shields and plasma weapons and seemingly-magical jump engines were in fact human, some new prototypes rushed into production perhaps. But now Regret pondered it further. Perhaps they weren’t humans? Could another, as-yet unknown race have sided with the humans against the Covenant? They had only seen these other ships in space combat, they had no way of knowing what species they were.

They were clearly advanced and had a martial attitude that impressed even the Sanghelli, but perhaps they did not have as many ships as the cursed humans. The various Fleets that had engaged the new enemy had identified less than eighty different vessels, and only ten capital ships, all of which were smaller than an Assault Carrier. Surely if they really had sided with the humans they would have brought their entire fleet to aide them. Regret dismissed those thoughts, they were speculation that could wait. His ship was about to return to normal space.

The slipspace rupture appeared and the Solemn Penance was shot out into realspace two hundred thousand kilometres from Earth. Regret instantly moved over to the sensor displays and was stunned at what he saw. This planet was clearly held by the humans, and had more powerful defences than anything he had ever seen short of High Charity itself. A hundred or more of those orbital cannons the humans were so fond of were visible, their formation suggesting even more were present on the far side of the planet. Nearly a hundred human warships were arranged in neat formations in low orbit, clearly waiting on him.

Elsewhere in the system Regret could see major enemy positions over the planet’s moon, around the next planet out from the system’s star and around several of the gas giants in the outer system. This was clearly a vitally important world to the humans, perhaps even their homeworld and primary military base. That it also held the Portal left Regret with no option but to immediately order evasive action and a message sent to High Charity; Truth and Mercy needed to know about this and they needed to know now.

Regret also knew he would not survive very long. Among the hundred or so ships facing him were two of their heaviest attack vessels and one of the largest carrier vessels plus dozens of escorts. With damaged slipspace engines and weakened shields the Solemn Penance would not survive, even if it did manage to destroy many of the enemy. It was at that moment of realisation that the ship rocked under enemy fire from behind them.

The Tau’ri force had executed their short-range hyperspace jump perfectly, emerging in a neat formation with all their forward weapons locked on the Assault Carrier’s stern. Two dozen plasma beams, four heavy beams, eight heavy coilgun slugs and twenty missiles were just the first volley. The aft shields glowed white as the energies were absorbed or deflected – one of the coilgun slugs skipped off the shield and headed out into interplanetary space, the rest were crushed on impact with the energy fields protecting the Assault Carrier’s stern.

The plasma beams and coilguns were firing as fast as they could cycle, chipping away at the massive target’s shields and hopefully allowing the volley of missiles to slip in unnoticed in the hailstorm. Sixteen of them managed to evade the limited pulse-laser fire and impacted on the target. Sixteen flares of intolerably bright light lit up the battlefield as hundreds of megatons of nuclear energy tore into the shield grid.

As an opening volley it was highly effective, the Assault Carrier’s shields dropped to barely five percent and in several areas failed completely. But the massive Covenant warship had begun its own turn to bring weapons to bear and the fight would not be one-sided for long. As soon as they had a target, the plasma torpedoes began hurling themselves towards the attacking ships while the energy projectors swivelled and acquired their intended victims.

The Gagarin was the first to take a hit. The 304’s were nimble enough to avoid the slow-moving plasma torpedoes, the energy projectors were a different matter. The white beam travelled fast enough to give no chance to evade, they had no choice but to steer a wildly erratic course and hope their Asgard shield grids could stand up to any hits. For the first hit they would, but the shields would only handle two such hits before they failed.

HMS Dreadnought was a different matter. The big battleship was built for exactly this kind of fight, slugging it out in the best traditions of the Royal Navy. The gun crews loaded and fired with a precision of drill and a calmness that would have made Horatio Nelson proud. Their fire was both accurate and effective, the plasma beams and heavy coilgun slugs continually battering the shields and in a few cases slipping through the localised shield failures to smash or burn their way through the hull armour.

One coilgun slug was particularly devastating, striking one of the energy projector mounts right before it fired on the Icarus. The weapon mount was torn asunder and worse still the massive capacitor banks feeding the potent weapon failed catastrophically, releasing their pent-up energy into the Assault Carrier’s internal structure. Compartments, corridors and crew vanished in blinding white light that gored out a hundred-metre crater in the hull. One of the compartments that was destroyed just happened to include the ship’s aft shield generators, leaving the ship bereft of protection.

The Tau’ri forces seized the opportunity and every ship focused their fire on the massive shield and hull breach. Plasma beams and heavy metal slugs began ripping into the exposed inner structures unhindered by the substantial hull armour. Vital systems were destroyed or damaged, power conduits were severed and plasma from fuel lines began leaking out into space. The Solemn Penance was bleeding to death.

But even a bleeding predator could still draw blood. Another energy projector beam lanced out, scoring a glancing hit on the Icarus. The shields blocked most of the energy but failed after a few moments, leaving the last half-second of the white beam through to strike the hull. The beam impacted on the upper surface of the port hanger, punched through the thin hull plating, immolated all eight of the F-302’s held there at ready-alert and then punched out the underside of the ship. The destruction of the eight fighters set off a number of secondary explosions as stored fuel and munitions joined the conflagration. One of the secondary sublight engines was torn open by these smaller explosions and the resulting explosion blew another hole in the hull and disabled the hanger pod’s other sublight thrusters. The Icarus spun away, briefly out of control as the helmsman desperately tried to wrestle the ship back under his direction while the ship’s commander, Colonel Davis, frantically shouted for damage-control teams to get the fires contained.

The hit on the Icarus would be the Assault Carrier’s final triumph. A full salvo of heavy plasma beams from HMS Dreadnought punched deep into the wounded aft section, touching off no less than five of the main plasma reactors. The entire rear half of the massive ship simply exploded in a brilliant blue detonation; the forward section began drifting even as local secondary reactors came online to try and maintain life support for the surviving crew. They got no respite, the 304’s launched another salvo of missiles – and these warheads faced no pulse-laser fire to thin their ranks.

They raced in completely unopposed, punching into the exposed innards of the Solemn Penance’s derelict forward section, penetrating a hundred metres or more into the superstructure before detonating. What remained of the once-mighty Assault Carrier, and the High Prophet of Regret vanished in twenty flares of nuclear fire.

In the CIC of HMS Dreadnought, Commodore Baird breathed a sigh of relief. His ship had weathered the storm and so had his battle group – the damage to Icarus was extensive but it wouldn’t threaten the ship’s survival. No critical systems had been destroyed even if the diminutive battlecruiser no had a distinctly lopsided appearance. Her main weapons were intact and most of her crew still lived.

There was a sense of growing dread forming in his heart however. The Covenant now knew Earth’s location – and that it was a heavily-populated and well-defended world. The Cole Protocol had kept the homeworld safe for years but now it was useless. One of his staff handed him a message form from UNSC HighCom, informing them of Captain Keyes and his ambush of the two scout corvettes at Reach. The best-kept secret in the war was now exposed. Baird could only hope they had the strength to hold off the inevitable assault.

=============

Annnnd we're back ladies and gentlemen.
Baltar: "I don't want to miss a moment of the last Battlestar's destruction!"
Centurion: "Sir, I really think you should look at the other Battlestar."
Baltar: "What are you babbling about other...it's impossible!"
Centurion: "No. It is a Battlestar."

Corrax Entry 7:17: So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.

DKeith2011
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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by DKeith2011 » 2018-09-07 07:26pm

How does the output of the Tau'ri heavy plasma beams stack up against the Terran Super and Mega Lasers?

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Eternal_Freedom
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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2018-09-07 08:35pm

Tau'ri heavy plasma beams are probably twice as powerful as megalasers but well short of a superlaser.
Baltar: "I don't want to miss a moment of the last Battlestar's destruction!"
Centurion: "Sir, I really think you should look at the other Battlestar."
Baltar: "What are you babbling about other...it's impossible!"
Centurion: "No. It is a Battlestar."

Corrax Entry 7:17: So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.

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