deWulf Corporate Democracy Turn 142

Fiction by Sylvester Wrzesinski

Moderator: Xveers

deWulf Corporate Democracy Turn 142

Postby Xveers on Tue 24 Mar 2020 23:39

We will accept nothing less...

Office of the Chief Minister
Chair of the Corporate Council
Lowell City, Fenris
Capital of the deWulf Corporate Democracy

"What do we want?"

"Victory!"

"When do we want it?"

"Now!"

The crowd seethed through the square, a roiling ocean of Fenren and Sintillan citizens that filled the square to bursting and beyond. Banners and placards bobbed like corks, some of them expensive and professional holographic displays, other ones classic cloth and wood signs. It sounded like a single angry beast, baying for blood.

And even a hundred floors up, Chief Minister Rheinbach could clearly make out the words echoing off the towers.

"Damnned Wäalenners..."

Wäalen had been the losers in the short unification war that had been the genesis of the deWulf state, and had suffered under the spasm of strategic nuclear fire that opened the final act of the war. Remediation efforts had helped of course, but for many of them immigration offworld offered them a clean break from their past. At first Weyland proved... beyond their reach. And then it was on the front lines of a new war. When Dave's World was opened for immigration, Wäalenners arrived in droves to settle a harsh world that they made their own. And for a decade, they did exactly that.

Until the Elysians arrived.

The Wäalenner/Davians were used to war. They had left it behind but they had not forgotten. While it had been left behind, the experience had left a weeping scar across their culture. The Elysian conflict soon spiraled beyond even the carnage that was the hallmark of the Heiterkeit, reopening that old wound. What population remained dug in around Finn's Massif and readied themselves to take a few more Elysians with them.

And then the deWulf Navy rolled in and obliterated the Elysian ships in orbit; the associated ground forces landed on the abandoned Elysian army units like the gods of old. As their armed forces crumpled between the deWulf Naval hammer and the Army anvil, a decade of latent shame and cultural frustration unwound itself like a ruptured spring. Here was a battle they could win. And this time, the full weight of every Fenren alive was behind them. The wound in their collective psyche was healed in a matter of weeks, and for the Wäalenners there was no question who to thank.

Which meant that Rollen, whether he chose to admit it or not, had suddenly acquired a significant power base in the deWulf electorate. Not only that, but a power base that was motivated, ready to make sacrifices, and highly militarized. So far he had remained ignorant of it, as best as Rheinbach could tell. Beyond a few restrained exhortations to support the fleet and volunteer for a temporary career in the armed forces, he had left the home theater entirely to the ruling corporate council.

"First he gets his damned navy. Then he started cutting sweetheart deals with some of the corporations. And then he pulled that mess with Article Seventeen. And now this." Rheinbach looked back over at his butler, a bitter scowl on his face. The butler returned an understanding nod, waiting for Rheinbach to turn away before slipping off to follow his unspoken orders.

"The Ibizans will dilute his support in the navy... and as soon as the war is over I can hammer his corporate contacts back into line with the peace dividend to end all peace dividends. But that-" his muzzle gestured out through the window at the milling throng that was now working its way down FlensburgStrasse "will require its own special handling."

A door clicked closed behind him, the soft clatter of fine glassware heralding the arrival of a freshly made pot of artisanal Pfen and light crackers. Another nod dismissed his butler as Rheinbach poured himself a glass, resting a cracker on the rim of the cup.

Hands clasped behind his back, Rheinbach pondered his options. And below him, the ocean surged.
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Garden of Vengance

Postby Xveers on Tue 04 Aug 2020 20:40

This great and noble undertaking...

dWS Hans Zollner
Director Mk4-Class Heavy Cruiser
Warp Point to Elysium
Dave's World Star System

Standing in the cramped command suite of the heavy cruiser, Junior PackMaster Markus Phelan cursed softly as he looked at the fleet displayed in the holotank. Not the first time he'd led fleets and thousands of Fenren to their deaths in the black maw of Elysium, but he hoped that perhaps this would be the last. The seven Sieg-Class siege dreadnoughts loomed in center of the formation, making even heavy cruisers like the Hans Zollner look like minnows in comparison. The light cruisers were smaller still, and the flights of small craft that continued to drill and practice were like motes of dust as the holotank struggled to accurately report their location.

"Status?"

"Kashenkov reports that the final gunboat crews have completed certification of their craft. He says another eight hours and then all of his craft will be in the cradles."

Phelan didn't respond to the information, still studying the fleet. Even the Ibizan contingent was riding in tight formation. They didn't have the kind of slackness the last fleet had, though he knew that the crews had been raising all kinds of trouble on Egon Gruzelier Memorial Highport, cashing in every marker they'd earned while their fleet had passed the deWulf task force back in the Cloak Nebula one jump back.

"Send a general signal to all ships in Task Force One, Two-1, Two-2, Six, and the Bombardment Fleet."

"Sir?"

"All ships are to stand down from drilling and training 48 hours. All crew are to be given 24 hours leave."

"Understood Sir."

Phelan felt his teeth grit harder. The breaker had already had more than its due for this one damned system, and it had one more payment to be made. This would be the last.

--------------------------- Three Days Later ---------------------------

In the intervening three days it felt like a continent had been lifted from everyone's shoulders. A chance to decompress, send a message home or catch up on news or simply sleep.

Junior PackMaster Phelan had not planned on giving himself any rest until his adjunct had brought the flagship's medical officer to the flag CIC and forced him off duty for his own 24 hours of leave; even then it had been a near thing. Only the surgeon's direct order to have members of the Hans Zollner's infantry compliment report as a security detachment had forced Phelan to back down.

"I did need the sleep" he would later admit, but he was back at the holotank not 15 minutes past that 24 hour respite, continuing to plot and try to eke out every advantage he could. But time had run out. 'It was' as more than one engineer at Mittellspannung had said 'time to shoot the engineers and put things into production.'

"All ships notice, please."

His adjunct nodded, the communications officer quickly patching Phelan's mic in to the fleet's communications network. A few moments wait brought a nod from the officer back at Phelan.

"All ships, this is Junior PackMaster Phelan. In twenty minutes we will set course Elysium. We will secure low orbit and finish this war. This will be a hard battle, and I will not lie to you. We're not all coming home. The breaker calls to us all, but I promise all of you; come tomorrow, and every day after, there will be NONE who say that we did anything less than our best. And none shall say we fought in vain! I promise that either I will be with you in orbit of Elysium with you all, or I shall stand at the entrance to Sif's Garden to guide you forward!"

The comm system was silent: everyone who knew what he had meant. That for Phelan, either he would return with his ship, or not at all. Some thought that this was a suicidal fatalism, but most understood it for what it was. A promise that he would share in danger that he was asking those under him, and that he would stand and die with them, come what may. The energy that rang out in his voice ebbed away, becoming a cold, resigned tone. No more bravado. No pleasure. Only the cold bitterness of experience.

"All ships." Phelan took another breath, steadying his voice. "All ships. Set course for navigation beacon DW-102. Let us get this great and noble undertaking underway. All ahead cruise."

The deckplates of the Hans Zollner rose in response, and the fleet began to pull out from orbit.
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Re: deWulf Corporate Democracy Turn 142

Postby Xveers on Wed 23 Sep 2020 02:43

dWS Hans Zollner
Director Mk4-Class Heavy Cruiser
Elysium Star System
En-route to Attica, Elysian Sovereignty Capital World

"Fleet units have all successfully jumped, Sir. Hare has taken station ahead, Hasen is aft with the carriers, and we have Spion port and up and Aufklärer is low to starboard."

Junior PackMaster Phelan didn't even look up at the report, his eyes watching the holographic table that already told him the reconnaissance destroyers had spread out to cover the flanks of the fleet. That same table also told him that system geography was about as unfavorable as it could have been. Orbital mechanics had left the planet Attica almost directly opposite their entry warp point. While strategic surprise always was impossible, the additional time the Elysians had to ready themselves was never welcome.

"Four bloody months..."
"Sir?" Hunter Ralf Mache looked over at Phelan as he stared at the holographic table. Phelan pulled a fresh stimstick from a coat pocket, cracking the end with a practiced bite before taking a drag.
"Four bloody months we were waiting for the Siegs. If we had moved four months ago we'd have half the distance to travel." His hand waved the 'stick at the display angrily as he cursed physics.

"If wishes were steel we'd have enough ships we could walk from the warp point to their star. Sir. And we'll need the Siegs before long."

Phelan cracked a thin smile at that, taking a fresh drag of stimulants from the 'stick. "True enough. Fleet status?"

Hunter Mache didn't even have to look at his repeater board. "All ships accounted and ready. We have a double line of Landsers and Baltics forward, with cruisers directly behind. The Siegs are in behind us, and the Saamans behind them. Carriers are two LS aft, and with heavy CAP covering."

Soft conversation filled the flag bridge as the two officers continued looking at the plot.

"They've got us on sensors, then."
"No way they haven't, Sir. Their hardware is as good as ours, and the fleet's radiating enough energy to look like a small gas giant. If they didn't know something is here, I'll eat my dress jacket."
"Do we see anything of theirs?"
"Negative. We don't have Attica in our sensor range. They had a replacement orbital yard last time we were here, but who knows what else."

Phelan leaned back into his seat for what was probably the first time in an hour, a sharp chuckle slipping from him "The more we try to tilt things in our favour, the more the universe balances back against us. Just like two years ago, and a year before that. Fine. Ralf, you have the deck. I'm going to get some rack time. Wake me in six hours, or if the Hares report anything."

"Understood Sir. Attention, this is Hunter Ralf. I have the deck."

------------------------------------------------------------------------
dWS Hans Zollner
Director Mk4-Class Heavy Cruiser
Elysium Star System
Distant orbit around Attica, Elysian Sovereignty Capital World

Four Days Later.


"General signal to all ships: All stop."
"Sending now, Sir."
"Hans Zollner answering All Stop."
"Fleet units confirming. Stand by for confirmation... Fleet is at All Stop, sir"

The fleet had proceeded unmolested for the whole run in-system. In a globe 24 light-minutes across, multiple sensor systems watched for the telltale energy signature of active drive fields and incoming ships. Nothing. Finally the combined fleets had arrived within a light minute of Attica, crawling closer until they were barely half that distance. Much closer, and the illusion of peace and safety would be firmly shattered. The deWulf Navy respected the overlapping layers that made up the Attican planetary defense grid, their understanding earned with a sobering price in steel and blood.

"They're not responding to us. Is it possible they can't see us?"

Hunter Mache bit back a sarcastic bark. "You asked that on the run in, Sir. They could see us four days ago when we entered the system. We're parked close enough a decent optical telescope can see us. Either they're all dead, or they know we're here."

"And yet they aren't responding."

"Yes. Still, it makes some sense. They don't have anything in orbit other than their shipyard. They undoubtedly have gunboat squadrons, but they've seen how much defensive firepower a Baltic can pump out, and they'd have to run the gauntlet before they got to anything valuable. And that's ignoring our own small craft that we're parading up and down our flanks. We're almost as secure as they are over there. But they know that we've got to be over there in the end. So why expend your resources fighting in our defensive envelope when they can guarantee an engagement in theirs?"

Phelan snorted in response. The logic was irrefutable. But the problem with one's own logic is that it tended to have blind spots that you weren't aware of. The old comment of "known unknowns and unknown unknowns" summed up the whole problem. And for Phelan the biggest unknown unknown was just what had the Elysians been up to in the months since the deWulf had last been here.

"I don't like this. They've had over a year, and we haven't seen a single sign of any mobile units. No cruisers, no carriers. And I doubt that yard's just been sitting idle."

"They could have just been making gunboats."

"And they could have been making little toy music boxes." Phelan looked at the holotank with a growl. "Doesn't matter. Breaker take them and their shipyard." His eyes looked up, locking onto Mache's face with a cold stare. "Pass the word to Kortex. Start rolling pods. If they're going to let us sit here, then we're going to show them what kind of a mistake they've just made."


------------------------------------------------------------------------
PDC Hellas, beneath the Palace of Eternal Flight
Highspire
Attica, Elysian Sovergenty Capital World

Eyrie Commander Saggitari felt the base of his feathers get slick with moisture. Plamades had been with the Strike Fleet for months, but it had been an on-and-off again posting. Why couldn't he have been here? Then he would be in the command throne, not me. But no, now I have the Czar looking over me Directly!

Only the barest of whispers hinted to Saggitari that Solon had slipped next to him, his voice barely above a whisper. "Relax, Eyrie Commander. The White Wings are here in support. You need not be afraid. Merely do your duty, and all will be well. You have my word."

"I'm sorry Si-" Saggitari's voice caught in his throat. "I'm sorry my Lord, I don't know what they are doing. They've been holding station there for the better part of a day now. They have almost as many groups of these smaller gunboats as we do, and they're clearly some kind of escort. We can go out and engage-"

Czar Nova Scion interrupted with his voice. His calm, relaxed tone so very different compared to the higher, almost whistling tone from Eyrie Commander Saggitari. "No, we hold. Whatever they are doing, we can weather it. If we waste our strength against them, we offer them an opening."

A sensor rating spoke up loudly, almost automatically calling out information and not realizing that he had nearly cut off his god and leader in mid-sentence. "Status change! Detecting unknown emissions from the deWulf formation!"

Saggitari found himself suddenly in focus. This was a problem that he had dealt with, that he could handle. "What kind of emissions?"

"Unknown! Initial analysis suggests its some kind of command transmissions. It's a broadband signal... getting a lot of bounces from other deWulf ships. We can't pinpoint the source. Encryption is fairly light, but the datastream doesn't make..." The rating swiveled his head to another display, his feathers flattening down hard beneath his uniform. "Transmissions identified as robot command signals!"

Czar Scion and Solon exchanged glances. The former questioning, the latter incredibly concerned, like a piece had fallen into place just a moment too late.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
dWS Kortex
deWulf Bombardment Fleet

"Command upload complete. All drones report condition green. Standing by for final command release."

The battleship's command deck was deathly quiet, the only sounds the whisper of the life support vents and a dozen terminals softly beeping to their users.

"Chief Weaponeer, under Fleet Order Three-One-One, you are hereby relieved of command."

The senior enlisted deWulf nodded once, graying muzzle taut as she set her command channels to 'hold safe'. "Understood Sir. I stand relieved." She snapped a salute and stepped away from her console. Under most circumstances, relieving a Chief Weaponeer was no easy task. The senior NCO onboard was not a position given to weaklings, and this was doubly true aboard ships in the deWulf Navy. But today was it was the easiest task ever. Chief Weaponeer Brecht had known this request was coming, ever since her Hunter had politely intruded into her realm many decks below and aft.

Hunter Reiss walked to that command console, pulling a small book from a side pocket on the outside of his skinsuit. He familiarized himself with the command channels, finding them perfectly in order and as Brecht had reported. He flipped the book open to a bookmarked passage, his other hand removing the safeties that Brecht had set.

"I am reminded-" His voice hitched, words catching in his throat "of words I once heard, old memories of the creche in my youth."

One hand traced along the words printed in the book, the other tying every channel to a single command.

"You who hunger,
Eyes blinded by blood.

Look for me
In the darkness below

where I Sif
tend the garden of Vengeance"
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Make Them Bleed

Postby Xveers on Sat 17 Oct 2020 03:48

PDC Hellas, beneath the Palace of Eternal Flight
Planet Attica, Elysium Star System
Elysian Sovereignty Capital

"Automated platforms detected! Drive systems just lit off!"
"Estimated drone count one zero zero zero. Repeat, one zero zero zero!"
"Flight time estimated three minutes!"
"Launch authority released!"

The room descended into a cacophony of orders and status reports, individual words cutting through the noise and forming sentences that only made sense to their speakers. At the center of it was Eyrie Commander Saggitari, somehow understanding the madness that surrounded him and snapping out orders in clipped, sharp tones.

Czar Scion looked at Solon "So this is their drone bombardment. Impressive numbers, but we can handle a thousand of their torpedoes, can't we?"
"Of course, my Lord. It's near the upper limit, but well within our capabilities."

"Approaching engagement envelope. All batteries standing by…"
"Separation! Separation! Inbound count is now two zero zero zero! Say again two zero zero-"
"Point Defense on automatic!"

Freed of their delivery bus, the actual torpedoes screamed in on their pre-determined targets. Their onboard jammers lit off, turning the tidal wave from individual point signals into an undifferentiated hash.

"Unknown ECM system! Retasking point defense!"

There had been a good opportunity for the Elysians to have engaged the drone pods as they moved into position. Even a token gunboat patrol could have blunted the strike, but that window of opportunity required the Elysians to be running a combat patrol. Instead, they had chosen to keep the gunboats safe in their bunkers. By the time Saggitari had seen the possibility, that window had slammed closed, the pods already irrelevant.

Compared to the pods, the torpedoes were like lightning. Their own targeting sensors awakened, scanning for assigned targets as they lived their bare twenty seconds of life. While there was no chance that the planet itself could be missed, their targets could be. They were key planetary defense centers: Gunboat bases, orbital missile platforms, and dedicated point defense installations. For the deWulf, they estimated only half of their strike would land on target. A quarter of the wave would fall victim to the Elysian defense grid, and the other quarter would reach the planet but hit "useless" dirt.

That this "useless" dirt would be inhabited was of little concern to the deWulf. For the Elysians, it meant that they had to stop every torpedo they could. Even the ones that would miss those defensive PDCs would still result in hundreds of thousands of deaths. But what they had to do and what they could do were two entirely separate things.

"New fire patterns locked in! Inbounds commencing terminal dive… area defense systems are opening fire!"
Fortunately for the Elysians at least, their systems were unconcerned about their own limitations. New engagement parameters flowed down from PDC Hellas and they prioritized accordingly. That they could never reach the bottom of their prioritization lists was irrelevant to their electronic brains. Track. Fire. Correct. Fire. Track. Fire. Correct. Fire.

"Point defense systems engaging!"

It was all in the hands of automatic systems now, targeting computers engaging with firing windows that disappeared as quickly as they appeared. A blazing trail of fireworks rained down from geosynchronous orbit as hundreds of torpedoes were disabled or destroyed outright, burning up as the atmosphere thickened.

"My… My Lord, telemetry indicates that they are only targeting some of our PDCs. None of our Spike Strip class PDCs are being engaged!"
Solon smiled at that, looking up to his Lord "Their intelligence is woefully out of date, then. Everything we've built in the last two years is completely unknown to them."

Czar Scion was looked less pleased. He remembered what they had been building for most of those last two years. And too few of those things had been PDCs. The gunboat PDCs were being ignored, at least. So there was a a small favor. But small favors were all that they had. The other small favor was that the incoming wave of torpedoes was not deliberately targeting civilian targets. Czar Scion made a mental note to chastise Solon later; he had advocated the construction of multiple PDCs to defend Highspire, but Scion had decided otherwise. And just as well, as those PDCs would only have invited those torpedoes to land right on their heads.

Of the two thousand torpedoes that the Elysian defense grid had to deal with, it managed to shoot down just over eight hundred. All things considered, a reasonable performance given the sheer volume and heavy jamming. But that left almost twelve hundred torpedoes, and despite everything that the massed defenses could manage, seven hundred and seventeen slammed into every PDC the deWulf knew about. One by one their status lights blinked into a sullen mahogany red. A few held on for a few moments longer, but eventually the hail of fire wiped them from the universe as well. Those PDCs died not realizing they had failed in one more task, for four hundred and seventy more torpedoes missed their targets, but not the planet itself, and they buried themselves into forests. And oceans. And cities.

As the tidal wave ebbed away, a silence settled into PDC Hellas, underscored only by the soft buzz indicating lost communication links with PDCs that no longer existed.

Solon was the first to speak. "We have weathered their attack! A cruel blow, to be sure, but the critical part of our defensive grid remains! My Lord, what are your orders?"

Czar Scion stepped down from his dais and walked to Saggitari, looking at the commander who had watched as their defense grid die. "Eyrie Commander, this is your sphere, not mine. What are your recommendations?"

For living gods to admit their weakness was a rarity at the worst of times, and this was well past the worst that anyone could have envisioned. "Si… Lord.. I…"
"Peace, Saggitari. Your recommendations."

"At… at once my Lord." He stiffened, eyes swinging low before scanning from side to side. "We… We must get our gunboats launched immediately. The pups will know how effective their barrage was within a few minutes. The PDCs with our gunboats don't have point defense, so they remain concealed for the moment, but the longer they stay there, the sooner they will identify them. Look-" as he swung a wing to the man plotting tank "already they form up their small craft. Escort formations are unmistakable. I believe the expression is 'use it or lose it'. Better at least for them to die in space, striking back at our foes instead of being slaughtered in their launch cradles."

Scion smiled. As much as he might not admit it, Saggitari had a spine when it was called for. No mindless wing-worshipper, he. "Very well. Launch our gunboats. Form them up. I will leave their targeting up to you. Make them bleed, Eyrie Commander."

"Of course, my Lord. I believe we should target those dreadnoughts in the back of their formation. A hard target to reach, but they're a new design, and their ship geometry is unusual. They've sprung one surprise on us already. I have no desire to see what other tricks they have in their cargo bays."

Already the first gunboats were locking into their cradles. Their crews had seen the destruction wrought by the initial bombardment, quietly seething in their command couches. They waited for their turn to die, or for the launch order that would fling them skyward into the hurricane. As the launch tubes came online and the armored doors slid open, the answer to their question was clear. If they would die, they would die screaming defiance at their foes.
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