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 fnord » 2018-04-29 09:27am

Hmm... the Smug Git seems to like getting his exercise jumping to conclusions.

E_F is a good enough writer that yes, Fireman's blindness in that area will bite and bite hard - I doubt he's forgotten his stint commanding Nemesis that had a double-digit body count.
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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2018-04-29 10:38am

Regarding Fireman, well I think I'm putting a fair bit of my own personality into the character, as given the fact that Vipers/Cobras don't usually carry anti-ship ordnance their weapons simply can't do enough damage, especially against shielded ships and they would risk getting caught in your own point-defence fire./ After his experience on the Warstar in Pegasus, he wants to minimise casualties as much as possible, and when deploying fighters even a clear victory will have some casualties.

Whether it comes back to bite him is another matter entirely. My intention is that he'll go back to Temeraire and his group after this mess is cleaned up. While his force will be part of the Fleet sent to the Haloverse he won't be in command.

As for Ba'al and jumping to conclusions, from his perspective and based on the information available, having a traitor is perfectly logical. He doesn't know about Argus Control and the sensor grid, doesn't realise they were on alert because of the nearby cloaked Al'kesh flying around in hyperspace being picked up, and doesn't know that thanks to Asgard and Ancient computer technology, the Terrans can plot jumps much faster than even the Cylons could - hence, someone must have warned the humans in advance.

And yes, the rapid jump plotting will come in handy later on, I've got a particularly fun fight in mind for Act Four over Reach.

EDIT: It should also be noted that Fireman's reticence to deploy fighters as an offensive tool are very much not standard TCN practice. Unlike the Colonial Fleet, where Battlestar Commanders seem to be exclusively comprised of former Viper pilots, the TCN allows anyone to rise to command IF they are good enough - see Kate Stewart and Stephen Garrett, who rose from commanding destroyers to Fleet Command/XO slots respectively.

And frankly, the idea that only fighter pilots can command mile-long warships is pretty absurd. You spend your career as a pilot, squadron leader, CAG and then suddenly you have to command a huge warship with capabilities you're only peripherally aware of? Crazy! This is why the Brits are putting their ships under RN control, not RAF - fighter pilots don't know how to drive capital ships. Gah I hate that concept!
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 » 2018-04-29 10:50am

Good point. How many times faster is Kobolian jump plotting now (what with much better kit, procedures, and possibly theoretical understanding) than Fall-era Colonial jump plotting?
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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2018-04-29 11:29am

Well pre-Terran upgrades Colonial jump plotting seemed to take at least a few minutes, though that was almost certainly a computer issue (no networks, no shared processing) and a lack of accurate star charts problem.

Now? I'd say that they're down to the under a minute mark, though precision jumps (as in, appearing within a formation, or in an exact spot) takes longer, as do formation jumps, since the ships all need to plot jumps in synch to stay the right distance from each other - and the bigger the formation, the more precision and time is needed.

Longer-distance jumps also take longer to plot, for reasons I have no conception of other than to say "it does, leave it at that."
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 » 2018-04-29 11:33am

Easiest reason would be "there's more crap in the way that we have to worry about not hitting". A series of jumps buzzing the Pegasus galaxy's central black hole would be a comparative swine compared to Earth-Terra, assuming equivalent chartage.
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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2018-04-29 11:34am

There we go.
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 » 2018-04-29 11:36am

Following that logic, completely-extragalactic jumps would be easier, ceteris fnordibus, than same-distance intra- or transgalactic jumps.
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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2018-04-29 11:45am

True. Though you run into the problems explained in Book I - you've got no identifiable landmarks close enough to fix your position at either end of the jump, meaning your formation might end up scattered across a hundred light-years or more of intergalactic void with no way to find each other again. That's why the Task Force that went out for the Pegasus Campaign needed the Asgard ships dropping out and broadcasting a homing beacon they could lock on to, and why the new jump-gate network needs gates at both ends for a jump that distance.

Consider that within a galaxy, navigational landmarks (certain stars, Cepheid variables, pulsars etc) will have a noticeably different apparent position at either end of the jump. Out in the big empty void, well, a distant galaxy won't change apparent position that much over he distance of a jump, making it impossible to use them as nav markers.
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 » 2018-04-29 01:04pm

Yeah, good point. Intragalactic, you also have pulsar emissions that, off millisecond-period pulsars, allow you to locate yourself to within 300 km or so, iirc - a pulsar-powered "global" positioning system, using the same principles as GPS but in the X-ray band.
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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2018-04-29 01:27pm

Between that and the network of nav/sensor buoys in the Milky Way and Pegasus, jumping within galaxies is very precise.
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 B5B7 » 2018-04-30 01:15am

RE: the tradition of having an aviator as commanding officer of a carrier/battlestar, this comes from the American practice where the commanding officer must have been an aviator. Note that they receive cross-training in naval type positions before rising to ship command.
I imagine the reason is that as the main role of a CV is to be the mobile operations platform for fighter squadrons, it is felt that a former aviator has the best knowledge and experience required to control the utilization of those fighters, and a deeper understanding of the limits and capabilities of fighters and their pilots.
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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by U.P. Cinnabar » 2018-04-30 11:08am

There have been cases where a black shoe officer has been given command of a carrier, but, mostly, brown shoe officers(usually CAGs)were given carrier commands after being cross trained. Also, it is or was SOP for a incoming skipper to serve a tour aboard the vessel he was taking over under the outgoing skippers tutelage, so he can a feel for the ship and her crew.

As an aside, the very first episode of BBC's Warship revolved around the Hero's new captain being an ex-Fleet Air Arm senior pilot, and his difficulty transitioning to his new role in the midst of an ASW exercise.
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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by U.P. Cinnabar » 2018-04-30 11:12am

Black shoes=Surface warfare line officers/crew
Brown shoes= Aviation line officers/crew

At least up to and during WWII. The USN may have dispensed with this altogether now.
"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
"Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter. The uproarious laughter between the two, and their having fun at my expense.”
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Re: The 13th Tribe Book II: A Symphony of War

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2018-04-30 11:54am

As sensible as that may be for wet-navy carriers, whose primary (in fact, only) offensive capability is her planes, it doens't apply to Battlestars (especially Terran ones) since they are plenty capable of engaging ships directly.
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 » 2018-04-30 11:58am

It's your story, Phil. We're just kibbutzing.
"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
"Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter. The uproarious laughter between the two, and their having fun at my expense.”
---Doctor Christine Blasey-Ford

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

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2018-04-30 12:05pm

Oh I know, and I'm not complaining since a lot of useful stuff has come out of this, I'm just cautious in wanting to remind people that Battlestars are not straight carriers in space like, oh, the Saratoga from Space: Above and Beyond. The Terran-designed ships (and the Eridanus to a lesser extent) are battleships first, carriers second, so having a warship driver in command makes sense.

But as I said, the TCN lets anyone reach command positions if they can prove they're good enough to do the job. Sometimes that'll be a pilot, sometimes it'll be a line officer, may even be an engineer given enough time.

It's also worth noting that the vast majority of Terran and Colonial ships don't carry fighters and are pure anti-ship platforms (only 14 hulls out of 104 combat vessels carry fighters), so the pool of available officers will tend to favour those who drive capital ships rather than fighters, gunships or bombers.

EDIT: In this story, Vipers/Cobras aren't offensive weapons. They're meant for fleet-defence, strike-escort and long-range system patrols. So you might see Cobras escorting a squadron of Scimitars or Raptors on an attack (assuming they don't do the jump-shoot-jump routine) but you wouldn't see them running down Hive Ships/Basestars/Covenant warships alone. I think the only reason we saw them do that in actual BSG was because they didn't have anything else. The only instances I can recall of Vipers being used in an offensive role were the strike on the Tylium asteroid (nothing else available since I don't think the Grey Lady had any anti-ship rounds on board at the time), attacking the Resurrection Ship (unarmnoured targets, Raiders drawn away, Basestars otherwise engaged) and the attack on the Resurrection Hub (towed in by Rebel Heavy Raiders), all of which are very odd situations and, I would argue, very much not representative of Colonial doctrine.
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 » 2018-04-30 12:57pm

The 'Toga wasn't a straight carrier either. It had firepower that used offensively in at least one episode that I know of("Sugar Dirt"). The Hammerheads were force multipliers and point defense for the ship, same as the 302s for the 304s.

Otherwise, all points taken.

PS Sides, you know what Atomic Rockets says about space fighters anyway. :lol:
"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
"Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter. The uproarious laughter between the two, and their having fun at my expense.”
---Doctor Christine Blasey-Ford

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

Post by Sky Captain » 2018-04-30 06:10pm

It makes perfect sense to not deploy fighters when engaging enemy capital ships with numericaly and technologicaly superior capital ships. During the last egagement what those fighters would accomplish? Enemy ships were blown to bits before fighters would exited their launch tubes.

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

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2018-05-01 12:07pm

Very much this. It's worth noting that the few times fighters were deployed in Book 1 were the general melee over Terra, where every edge was needed, either to dent the Raider formations or help interdict missiles aimed at Lemuria, the two smaller raids on Wraith task forces (the 3 Battlestar raids) and that was, again, to help thin out incoming fighters and prevent them from acting as kamikazes, and finally the battle over Atlantis, where they were held in reserve to ambush darts that had closed on the formation.

Basically, Vipers/Cobras/Scythes are very good at killing enemy fighters, even at a numerical disadvantage, but aren't hugely effective at anti-ship duties so leave that to the big guns. Fighters will get deployed when they close in on Ba'al's base, because they know the enemy have a lot of gliders ready and waiting. plus Al'kesh bombers.
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 » 2018-05-05 12:50pm

Welp, here we go again. This is a big one, just shy of 4600 words. I'm rather smug about the fact that I've only been writing the sequel for three weeks and I've hit 20k words already.

The Jaws of Victory
Kobolian-Tau’ri Task Force, Six Hours Later


Despite the seemingly easy victory and the chance to rest and recover for a few hours after a day or more of near-constant combat alert the crews of the Task Force were still tense. They knew that at least three times the number of enemy ships were waiting for them at the Goa’uld base as well as strong support elements, always a sobering thought. The crews, both Kobolian and Earth-born were well-accustomed to facing long odds but that didn’t make the concept any easier to think about.

For the first time, the Kobolian forces were taking the offensive against a fortified enemy world. Every previous engagement had effectively been defensive in nature, even the handful of offensive strikes against the Wraith three years ago or against Lucian Alliance targets in the Milky Way hadn’t been against well-defended planets and shipyards.

Thus the plan was kept as simple as possible. Commodore Wallace was still concerned that it lacked subtlety but with the odds stacked like this and no prospect of prompt reinforcements - they had scraped together every ship that wasn’t absolutely needed elsewhere - he had little choice in the matter. They would move in with every gun blazing and every ready missile launching. He had his orders direct from the Commander in Chief; destroy them all.

So the plan was set. While the Terran ships that had sprung the ambush had jumped away back to their hiding place in a nearby Oort cloud, the five Tau’ri battlecruisers and the Terran explorers continued their carefully-coordinated “search” pattern, one that was so far effective. Ba’al had withdrawn every ship he had to defend his homeworld. It looked as if he were preparing for a last stand, but the assorted Earth officers explained that it was unlikely in the extreme that Ba’al intended to go down fighting; escaping under cover of the imminent bloodbath was much more likely.

The Terran ships readied themselves for the final all-out offensive. The key element in this plan though was not the big guns or the missiles of the Battlestars and escorts. No, the real vital component was the several thousand tonnes of experimental equipment sitting in the bowels of the TCS Excellent.

It was something that had been created since Daniel Jackson had discovered Janus’ secret lab in Atlantis two and a half years ago. Janus, or Prometheus as the Kobolians knew him, was a brilliant scientist and engineer and had been working on an endgame strategy for the Wraith. His solution was the Attero Device but it had been fatally flawed, as the records of apparently disastrous side-effects during the brief test showed.

The research and the device itself had been turned over to the joint R&D laboratories run by General Carter and Professor Bazelgette; no one expected much to come of it and the work was hardly a priority as the Wraith were extinct. Despite this, several researchers gnawed away at the concepts before reaching a conclusion that brought Sam and Joseph into the project directly.

They had found a way to mimic the effects of the Attero Device but at a lower level and without the painful side-effects. The resulting system was called a hyperspace jammer (Jack O’Neill had winced at the name during the initial presentation but it had stuck despite his protestations) and it worked by emitting hyperspace distortions powerful enough to prevent any hyperspace windows from forming within the area of effect, stopping any ships from arriving or escaping. As a side-effect it also prevented any nearby Stargates from being dialled and had a particularly nasty effect on Kobolian jump drives – any attempt to escape with an FTL jump caused the drives to overload in a messy and expensive fashion.

The short version was that once Excellent was in position and the jammers powered up, no ships would be able to arrive or leave unless they cleared the distortion effect with sublight drives first, and since the distortion effects radiated outwards for at least twenty million kilometres doing so would take time and be very noticeable.

It did put some serious constraints on the battle plan though. Wallace’s ships would have to arrive en masse and would not be able to retreat unless the jammers were deactivated, meaning he could well have ships damaged or outright destroyed because of it. He had to weigh that potential risk with the chance of the enemy escaping, it was an easy choice to make now but Phill had a terrible feeling it would be harder to live with after the fact.

So they would indeed move en masse. Unknown to the Goa’uld, all five explorers were already inside the target system, known to the Atlantis Expedition as M9Z-359, running under cloak and every conceivable stealth protocol. Excellent had positioned herself in a perfect hiding spot, in the shadow of one of the larger rocks that formed a debris field in orbit around the target world. It was most likely the remains of a moon that had been shattered by a sizeable impact long ago, for the moment it provided an ideal observation position.

The moment all the ships of the Task Force arrived, by FTL jump or by hyperdrive, the hidden explorer would activate the jammers and would only lower them when given an express order by the Task Force commander. This moment was fast approaching, the strike had been brought forward by the report that the enemy appeared to be rushing some of their new Basestars out of the shipyard and into the formation. Two of them were already present, not completed yet but ready enough to fight even if they had no fighters to launch and limited missile magazines.

The heavy ships of the Task Force were back to two-to-one odds despite their earlier success. Phill had made a small change to the attack plan as a result, the first target for the Phoenix’s superlaser was no longer one of the Ha’tak’s or the new Basestars but now the orbiting shipyard itself. Since the superlaser was more powerful than even the largest enhanced nuclear weapon no one expected the structure to survive.

The countdown clock was now ticking away. In just ten minutes the Task Force would appear and engage the enemy. They knew the odds they faced: six Ha’tak’s, two partially-completed new Basestars, about sixty Al’kesh and upwards of fifteen hundred gliders. Against them were four complete Battle Groups and the five Tau’ri battlecruisers. It would be a bloody fight.

They intended to arrive at a safe distance for the missile-armed ships in the force, they would fire everything in their tubes the moment they could. With the superlaser taking out the shipyard and every megalaser, turbolaser, plasma beam and coilgun turret engaging anything in sight it should be a brief battle. Phill only hoped it was, long drawn-out engagements inevitably led to casualties, whether by enemy action or by mistakes made due to exhaustion. Ever since that first time he’d commanded in combat, on the Nemesis when those Wraith cruisers managed to slip through and ram the ship, killing dozens of the crew, he had been driven to minimise friendly losses whenever he could. He knew he couldn’t eliminate them completely but he was determined to try.

The clock approached the appointed moment. The Tau’ri ships left a few minutes ahead, racing in with their hyperdrives at full power in a cruciform formation. When they were a few seconds from arrival the Terran ships would jump into position for their massive synchronized punch. This just left Phill time to say a few words. He had the comm set raised to his ear and an all-ships channel selected before he realised it. Some things it seemed were pure instinct.

“All ships, all hands, this is Commodore Wallace. In a few minutes we will be engaging the enemy. This is the same bastard we faced at Terra, the God of the Cylons, mastermind of the apocalypse our Colonial brothers and sisters survived. There will be no mercy! Hyperspace jammers will be active, so there will be no falling back: we will jump in and fight until this bastard is dead permanently, for the memory of the Twelve Colonies there will be no escape for him. All ships, Action Stations, combat jump in twenty seconds. Good hunting boys and girls, give them the hell they deserve. Fireman out.”

The handset was returned to its cradle as the klaxons sounded. It was purely psychological but it seemed to work very well on the crews. The clock ticked away until…

“Jump!”

Unknown Vessel, Unknown Location

The man stood upon his ship’s bridge as he had done so many times before. It felt intimately familiar to the grey-haired warrior, the deck, the consoles, the bulkheads, the sights, the sounds, the smells, all were so evocative.

Especially since the man had never expected to see this bridge, or indeed anything, ever again.

It seemed so clean, so intact, not at all how he had last seen it when it had been wrecked by enemy action, consoles scorched, bulkheads dented, men and women lying dead at their posts, the tactical station burning.

He was also alone, but he had expected that. He’d ordered the surviving crew to evacuate to one of the other ships before he attempted his final insane plan to draw in and obliterate the enemy. The fact that he could see stars out the window, not the chaotic swirls of a gas giant’s atmosphere or the mad jumble of battle debris simply added to this mystery.

He cast his mind back, trying to recall what happened. The taunts, the chase, the death-ride into the atmosphere, the thrill of knowing the enemy had taken the bait and were right where he needed them. The final sense of peace and victory as he ordered the massive missile salvo. He hadn’t expected to survive that explosion.

Then there was the gut-wrenching feeling, the sight of the bulkheads warping visibly under the strain, similar to a slipspace transition but much more extreme, then the final impact that threw him to the deck, knocking him unconscious and leaving him totally unaware of what had happened after that.

Vague echoes and flashes were all that remained of the time between then and now. Looking up from the deck to see a vast, flower-shaped structure in space ahead of them, bright lights, a glowing, floating ball, voices, what felt like a medical facility of some sort, voices echoing in empty rooms.

A single word came from behind him, a word that snapped everything back into focus.

“Reclaimer.”

In orbit of M9Z-359

Ba’al’s fleet was ready. They knew the enemy would be coming for them so every ship was turned out to meet the cursed humans when they finally arrived. One major advantage these forces had was their Cylon physiology – exhaustion was a much-reduced problem compared to baseline humans, meaning that standing six hours at full battle-readiness was not a hardship.

It would do them little good however.

Twenty-eight flashes of light deposited twenty-eight heavily armed and very angry Terran warships into perfect firing positions. Hyperspace windows disgorged the group of Tau’ri battlecruisers. The entire arrival took half a second and was timed to perfection. Half a second later the Excellent powered up her jammers, sealing the Goa’uld’s fate.

There was a pause, a moment of complete stillness. Some of the crew on the USS Apollo would compare it to a spaghetti western, the good guys and the bad guys lined up facing each other, all that was missing was the ominous music, the tumbleweeds and the tension of who would draw first.

That was never in doubt. That brief moment, which felt like an eternity but was actually only the same half-second needed to power up the hyperspace jammers, was shattered when the human task force opened fire.

From the eight cruisers came a hail of new contacts as each ship volley-fired their missile tubes. That alone saw one hundred and sixty utterly lethal anti-ship warheads racing in towards the Goa’uld formation. They were joined by another swarm as the Tau’ri ships completed their own mass-launch. The mathematics was simple: five ships, 32 launch cells each, four missiles per cell. Six hundred and forty missiles likewise stormed at the enemy, only this time from a completely different direction, catching them between two fires.

This was followed by the Battlestar Phoenix firing her superlaser. The blue beam lanced out, passing by all the Ha’tak’s and Basestars and avoiding the missile salvos. The Cylon commanders had only a moment to be grateful the azure death wasn’t coming for them when they realised the true target.

The Tel’Mok Orbital Shipyard was an impressive feat of engineering, especially considering the timescale it had been built in. With construction berths for six capital ships and docking arms for an equal number of Ha’tak’s, the structure sprawled across three kilometres of gantries, structural elements, glider bays, Al’kesh construction slips, shield generators and defensive cannon emplacements. It was well-armed for a shipyard, but unlike the Terran-built Fleet Bases at Terra, Earth and Atlantis it was not intended to act as a battle station.

The shields held for a moment then collapsed, allowing the shining blue beam to stab deeply into the structure, vaporising anything in its path, shattering countless gantries and girders. The shot finally hit the central hub and vented all of its pent-up energy. The hub evaporated and the resulting cloud of plasma exploded outwards with colossal force, tearing the shipyard structure apart even as fuel bunkers and missile storage depots erupted in sympathy.

The complete destruction of the shipyard took only moments. What was left of the structure and the partially-built ships within was hurled out in all directions, a few pieces striking the shields of the nearby Goa’uld ships.

The moment Ba’al saw his shipyard annihilated he knew he had lost. Even if he managed to wipe out this entire human force with no losses of his own, his enemy still had other ships and the means to produce them. His only source of replacement vessels had quite literally just evaporated right before his eyes.

His first instinct was to order an escape jump. Luckily for him the drive was charged and spun up ready for just this eventuality. He was unaware of the Excellent and her jammers however, so when the drive activated and then shattered itself into hundreds of pieces that were flung all around the engine room causing even more damage his thoughts once again turned to sabotage. His sanity slipped away from his grasp entirely and he now saw traitors everywhere he looked. His blade was drawn and striking down the first of his servants before they realised it. Many more would follow as the System Lord lost himself in complete lunacy.

Outside, even after the shipyard was destroyed, his loyal servants fought on as best they could. The Ha’tak’s and the two mostly-complete Basestars let fly with every plasma cannon they mounted while the Al’kesh swarmed forwards to attack. The gliders adopted a defensive position and began trying to shoot down the incoming missiles, something their weapons and targeting systems were not optimised for. They scored some successes though, cutting the number of inbound warheads by nearly a third.

That merely meant that instead of eight hundred missiles, only five hundred and fifty made it through the fighter screen. The plasma cannons on the big ships shifted their fire while the light guns on the two Basestars opened up, further reducing the onrushing horde of missiles.

In total, only three hundred and eight warheads actually detonated on their target’s shields and inevitably much of the energy was wasted on empty space rather than the protective screens but the damage was done. The shields glowed brilliantly as they desperately tried to redirect the fearsome energies they were exposed to. They succeeded in most cases, only one Ha’tak and an incomplete Basestar had their shields completely overwhelmed, leaving their hulls afire and their weapons mostly disabled as the leftover energy ravaged their hulls.

The opening salvos were devastating on both sides. The hail of Goa’uld plasma bolts, both gold and blue, rained down on the Terran formation. Before anyone could react, the destroyer Sabre was bracketed and pummelled heavily, her own shields valiantly resisting as long as they could before inevitably failing.

The starboard megalaser pod barely had time to fire along with the rest of the fleet before a salvo of plasma bolts gutted it completely. Another salvo punched deep into her drive section, wrecking the delicate components within and cutting power to the rest of the ship. Automatically, beaming systems on the nearby Battlestar Indomitable began evacuating the surviving crew, the process was effective enough that by the time the next salvo arrived and blasted the destroyer in half, everyone who was still alive after the first hits was safely on the Battlestar.

In Fleet Ops aboard the Phoenix, Fireman watched in dismay as the icon for Sabre blinked red and then vanished. It was the first outright loss of a ship in battle since the Excalibur had been destroyed over Atlantis years before. And it had happened on his watch.

He could only remain stoic as more symbols began flashing, indicating ships were taking a pounding. The destroyers Tomahawk, Broadsword and Katana were all in dire straits, as was the cruiser Heimdall. Things swung back in their favour when the megalaser salvo slammed home against the Goa’uld ships; the already damaged Ha’tak and Basestar erupted into fire and debris as their hulls collapsed and their reactors exploded.

Now the battle was joined as ships closed in and opened up with every available gun. Off to the right of his formation, Fireman could see the Tau’ri ships racing through the swarm of Al’kesh, their laser cannons and coilgun mounts spitting fire and steel as they ripped into the enemy bombers. Plasma beams added to the fury as a dozen Al’kesh died in the first salvo with more damaged. The light Goa’uld vessels broke off their attack run on the Battlestars to engage their new opponents, the action quickly devolving into a brutal melee with no clear formation or control.

In the centre the Battlestars were holding position and concentrating on one Ha’tak at a time, aiming to bring down the shields and gut the pyramid ships as quickly as possible. It seemed the Cylon crews had the same idea however as all five Goa’uld vessels and the surviving Basestar were concentrating their fire on the Indomitable. The shields were strong but could not hold up to a barrage like this for very long.

The fight continued as seconds became minutes. Shields flared and died on both sides and hulls began to take on a pitted and scarred visage. The superconductive armour on the Battlestars and cruisers did its job and protected the ship’s vitals, entire hulls glowing blue as energy was redistributed safely out into space.

Amongst the hellscape of turbolaser and plasma fire were the gliders and the Cobras. Both sides had unleashed their fighter forces at almost the same moment, the Cylon commanders deciding to throw everything they had at the human ships and Commodore Wallace realising they needed to intercept them as far away as possible. From the four Battlestars came the Cobras, each ship managing full-deck launches in less than a minute with seven hundred and twenty pilots in the air and out for blood.

The Cobras and the gliders weaved and rolled and fought and died, laser fire matching plasma cannons shot for shot. It was apparent that even at two to one odds the Cobras were far better suited for this than the gliders were, which was hardly surprising since the gliders were built for intimidating rebellious slaves not fighting comparable craft in space.

The skill, combat experience and sheer rage shown by the Terran pilots quickly began reducing the odds and the wireless channels were full of action calls and victory yells, punctuated by the occasional heart-rending scream as someone saw their wingman blasted by a glider that got the better of them.

Added to the mix were the Tau’ri F-302-B Lightning interceptors. The battlecruisers had scrambled every available bird but this amounted to a mere eighty planes, a paltry force when compared with the Goa’uld or Terran contingents. Nevertheless the Tau’ri pilots dove into the furball with nerve and élan, their light coilguns and anti-fight missiles adding to the growing destruction of the glider force.

The wider fleet action ground on, now into its twelfth minute. Another Ha’tak had been destroyed, leaving the Goa’uld with just four pyramid ships and one incomplete and now-battered Basestar against four Battlestars. Not good odds for the snakes and the toasters. Their fire was still effective though, as the Indomitable was coming to understand.

With the shields long gone and the armour barely holding, things were becoming decidedly uncomfortable for Commodore Alan Walker’s command. The ship fought back with everything she had however; the entire Navy knew the legend of “Barham’s Last Stand” and every Battlestar crew intended to live up to it if needed. Things began to spiral out of control as a salvo of plasma fire from the enemy Basestar punched through the weakening armour on the bow and wrecked the two portside megalasers, causing fires to spread throughout the surrounding compartments. The survivors rescued from the Sabre soon found themselves pressed into damage-control efforts in an attempt to ward off disaster.

Elsewhere the destroyer Katana met her end when a crippled Al’kesh slammed into her drive section at full thrust and her engines set to overload. The resulting explosion shredded the big sublight drives on the Terran ships and turned the entire aft third of the ship into an inferno as fuel lines breached and fires roared through the engineering spaces. The surviving crew in the forward section were beamed off to the Illustrious when it became clear the destroyer was dead in space.

This was not a moment too soon as only seconds after the last of the crew were beamed away a volley of plasma fire from a Ha’tak punched deep into the bow. The resulting internal explosion caused the entire forward section to balloon outwards before the hull plating shattered under the strain and the destroyer broke apart into a cloud of debris.

The losses were, in a purely material sense, minor for the Terrans. Two destroyers gone, another two along with a cruiser and a Battlestar damaged was a reasonable price for half the enemy force – even as Katana died a third Ha’tak was wrecked as a point-blank megalaser salvo from Lionheart ripped the guts out of the pyramid structure at the core of the vessel, destroying the engines, shield generators and main power plant in a moment.

The losses were minor but the psychological effect was immense. The human crews were now even more furious – this was no longer about avenging a genocide, this was about avenging their brothers and sisters in arms on the lost and damaged ships. It had become personal.

In Fleet Ops Fireman stood and calmly directed the action as best he could. It was a fairly chaotic fight so there were limits on how much he could actually do, this realisation did not help his mood at all. He finally understood how Lethbridge-Stewart had felt over Terra, how Jellicoe had felt over Atlantis, he was in command but the battle was in the hands of individual captains and commanders now.

Weapons fire continued to fly back and forth and now the Tau’ri ships entered the main engagement, their battle against the Al’kesh having largely been won. The Goa’uld bombers that weren’t destroyed outright were left adrift, crippled, broken and harmless in the wake of the five battlecruisers.

The Tau’ri vessels picked the remaining Basestar as a target and opened up with a blistering cannonade. Twenty plasma beams burned through the depleted shields to cut deeply into the hull, causing fires and explosions in their wake. Coilgun turrets sent torrents of heavy slugs tearing into key systems as the huge Basestar staggered under the onslaught. The ship was dead and the crew was dying before the battlecruisers moved on to their next target, the newly-built vessel began breaking up as they passed by. There was no dramatic explosion this time, the ship had literally been shot to pieces that now began drifting apart in the void.

Just three Ha’taks were left now and all showed signs of damage. Before the Tau’ri ships could shift their fire one of the Goa’uld ships died as the Phoenix and the Illustrious launched a coordinated megalaser salvo, ten beams of red death punched deep into the vessel’s core before the ship simply exploded under the terrible energies unleashed.

The Earth ship captains took this in their stride. The British ship HMS Conqueror took the lead and her plasma beams reached out and burned deep into one of the remaining targets. The other four ships joined in and blue plasma beams shredded the huge Goa’uld warship.

The last Goa’uld capital ship received a more dramatic fate. The Phoenix had recharged her superlaser and once again the blue lightning bolt leapt out and vaporised the Ha’tak. Suddenly the battle was over as the last of the gliders died under the guns of the Cobras and Lightnings, their Cylon pilots being stunned at how their force had collapsed and unable to react in time.

In Fleet Ops Commodore Wallace sagged against the plot table. Fifteen minutes of surging adrenaline takes a toll on any man and Fireman was no exception. One of his battle staff confirmed that all remaining enemy contacts were adrift or disabled, signalling that the battle was indeed over. He called for a status report on all ships; the news was delivered by his temporary Chief of Staff after a short delay and was not good.

Sabre and Katana are destroyed, we managed to evacuate most of the crews to the Battlestars but we’re still looking at two hundred dead from those ships. Broadsword, Tomahawk, Heimdall and Indomitable have all taken moderate internal damage that will require dry-dock time to repair and light casualties, about forty in total. The other ships all report that the shields held and they have no casualties.”

Phill nodded numbly. “What about the pilots?”

The Commander nodded and called up a different report. “Looks like fifty-three Cobras lost and another seventy damaged. Twenty-eight pilots are KIA, the rest ejected and are being beamed aboard now.”

Phill shook himself to get rid of the grim mood he was in. “Very well. Signal Atlantis Base that we have defeated the enemy, ask them to relay that to Olympus Base and call up the Marines, we’ll need them to begin clearing out the surface and checking those disabled ships. Then signal Excellent and tell her to power down the jammers.”

His subordinate nodded and moved away. Phill once more turned to the plot table and watched as the Cobras and Lightnings began returning to their home ships while the destroyers and cruisers began to resume their usual formation around their Battlestars. Phill knew intellectually that this was a decisive victory for the Alliance forces, but his heart was still fixated on the fact that at least two hundred and fifty of his men and women were not going home.

The battle was won, now all he had to do was live with the aftermath.

==========

Boom! For those counting, this is the first loss of Terran ships in action for three years. With two destroyers down, two more damaged, plus a cruiser and a Battlestar, the Terrans have effectively got an entire Battle Group that is out of service for a while, or roughly 25% casualties in ships. Ouch.

Also, for amusement value I decided to crunch the numbers on just how powerful my superlasers are. Based on the description I gave in Book I of Nemesis vaporising a 60 cubic km nickel-iron asteroid with one full-power shot, I get a value of about 800 gigatons as a lower limit. So for the sake of argument (and to make it easier) the Warstar's spinal cannon has a full-power shot of 1 teraton, or 200 gigatons in low-power burst-fire mode. Ouchies. Phoenix's superlaser is half as powerful, so 500 gigatons for a full-power shot or 100 gigatons in burst-fire mode.

Also, since the Warstar can quick-charge the superlaser in just three minutes (at the expense of other systems running at reduced capacity) the ships' main generators have a capacity of at least 2.3x10^19 W. We aren't in Star Wars level here but damn, that's more powerful than I thought!

Given the planned future events in the Haloverse, the Warstar's superlaser is equivalent to 20 (!) S-MAC rounds. Some Covenant ships are gonna be a-hurtin'. Which is good, because I wanted the Terran ships to be powerful but not overwhelmingly so. One superlaser shot being equal to one shot from all of Reach's S-MACplatforms seems reasonable to me.

As for who that was on the bridge of that mystery ship, well if you've seen the discussion with UP Cinnabar it ain't much of a spoiler to say that, yes, that is Admiral Preston Cole aboard the UNSC Everest, and that big flower-shaped structure was indeed the Ark.
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 » 2018-05-05 06:31pm

Nice. Very nice. And, the superlasers are impressive, but no 69 zetaton yields, thank the Emperor.

Shame the Argentines didn't build any 304s. I mean the Conks and the Belgrano. In space.
"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
"Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter. The uproarious laughter between the two, and their having fun at my expense.”
---Doctor Christine Blasey-Ford

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

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2018-05-05 07:25pm

Eh, from what I can recall Argentina was in a fairly shit position in 2008 so couldn't really afford to fund a ship the way the US, UK, Russians, French, Chinese and Germans have. Plus, well, having the 304's Conqueror and Belgrano would be a cliche too far, even for me. Plus I suspect they would intentionally avoid the name and use the Vintecinco de Mayo or however 25th of May is spelt.

On the superlasers, well depending on what source you use, the Warstar's main gun is near the high end of SW turbolaser firepower for the heavy guns. Which is pretty sweet. I dread to think what would happen if you turned that superlaser on a ground target, I suspect it would look like what happened to Jedha and Scarif...
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 » 2018-05-05 09:06pm

The interdictor cruiser was damned effective - mainly due to surprise?
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 » 2018-05-05 11:14pm

Vientecinco de Mayo, abbreviated to 25 de Mayo. But, why name a ship after an ex-USN CVL that never left the dock since the US transferred her over to the ARA Back in the 60s/70s?

I'd actually think if the ARA could afford to build a 304, it would be named after the father of their navy, William Brown, which I believe they did with the first new destroyer they got(from then-West Germany) following the fall of the junta.

As for what would happen if the superlaser were fired against a ground target, we get this, assuming a one teraton yield and my math being correct.
"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
"Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter. The uproarious laughter between the two, and their having fun at my expense.”
---Doctor Christine Blasey-Ford

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

Post by DKeith2011 » 2018-05-06 02:02am

Yeah, thats an extinction level event.

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