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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The State Calls...

Postby Xveers on Sat 07 Nov 2020 03:54

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

"Well, that certainly woke them up."

Junior PackMaster Phelan watched as the tactical holographic table glowed, a bloom of small craft flying out from the planet in the centre of the display. More contacts lit up from behind Elysium's smaller moon, flowing into an escort pattern near the planet. He looked over at Hunter Mache, head tilting in a silent question about what he was seeing.

"Sensors are detecting twenty three gunboat squadrons dusting off from the planet. Five battlecruisers and one dreadnought coming up from the moon. The warships were probably in low orbit behind the moon; that's why we didn't spot them earlier. CIC's having some difficulty nailing down the warship classes. They say the battlecruisers are Mars-class and the dreadnought's a Jupiter, but their ECM profiles aren't matching up."

Phelan nodded. "Different subclasses then?"

"That's what CIC thinks. EM signatures are broadly the same, but we're seeing some variations in their shield emissions and targeting systems. Incremental updates most likely, but we won't know for sure until we engage."

"What's that one red dot in orbit?"

"Huh?"

Hunter Mache highlighted the contact and pinged back to CIC for a flash identification. The icon pulsed, changing from a generic 'contact' icon into one for defense bases. Small defense bases.

"They appear to have a class two fort as well. Probably was drive field down and hiding in a ballistic orbit."

Both Mache and Phelan stared at the contact for long moments before Phelan hung his head down, choking back something. The strangled sound gave way to a chuckle, and then to a loud, booming laugh as he stood up straight, hand on his face as he tried to hide his reaction. Hunter Mache stared, as did three other officers who were managing orders to the rest of the fleet. Eventually Phelan stopped, head looking straight at Mache while he tried to clear the tears from his eyes.

"Oh breaker... a Class Two Fort. Well, we'll just have to call this whole thing off, won't we?"

Mache chuckled back "Oh, definitely. We can't handle firepower of that magnitude." His mood became more serious "do you think it'll help them?"

"Like tin plating against the breaker's torch."

One of those three officers interrupted Phelan before he could continue. "Comm request coming in from Nicolai Savkin, Sir." Phelan nodded "Put it up on the table."

A display popped up on the side, displacing part of the digital battlefield of an older Sintillan with a lean grin on his face. "They've played every trick they can, Phelan. Let's show them how we play."

"All right, Panfilov. Consider yourself cut loose. Like we agreed, yes? Leave their warships for the battle line."
"Of course Phelan, of course. Fighters to intercept their gunboats, and our gunboats to knock out any PDCS still alive." The Sintillans grin curled a bit sharper "but if we have a chance, we'll make a pass or two on those warships of theirs. Elysian ships have pathetic point defense systems, and if we can blood them a bit before they get into your gun range, we can make sure that the fight will be as unfair as possible."

"Within reason, Panfilov. Within reason. Remember that everything that we have is right here. I refuse to leave until we've implemented Directive 595 across the system." Phelan was already turning away as the com circuit was cut. "Mache, signal the rest of the fleet to Combat Stations. The fleet will advance to deal with the enemy warships, then move in on the planet to suppress any PDCs that remain. Open a channel to Junior PackMaster Korman."

------------------------------------------------------------------------
dWS Heiterkeit Valley
deWulf Bombardment Fleet

"Junior PackMaster Korman here, Phelan. What can I do for you?"

"The Elysians are finally moving in on us. We're going to advance to deal with their mobile force, and then hammer the planet into submission."

"With all due respect sir, that is our job."

"And I'm clearing the way for you. I want you right behind us. As best you can manage, of course."

Korman's face tightened up at the order. True, his Siegs were slow. But that meant every light second deeper into the planet's engagement envelope was another light second away from safety. And they didn't have the speed to get them out of trouble once they got in.

"Relax Korman, only so far as you have to in order to get targeting solutions. I imagine we'll still be dealing with active defenses. I want you in place and hammering them as soon as you're able. Once we know the immediate area is clear, you can move up into optimal range and get to work."

"That's one way to put it" thought Korman. "Most people didn't describe strategic orbital bombardment as work. I believe the preferred term is 'Genocide'. But blood calls for blood." Korman knew he was one of the few onboard who thought that. Most of the crews for the Siegs were volunteers. The ships were originally a volunteer posting simply due to their projected casualties, but it turned out they drew Fenren who had lost someone in the war. If there were any ships in the deWulf Corporate Navy who accepted what this class was built to do without reservation, it was their crews. Indeed, the most terrifying thing about this class, and there were a LOT of things about this class that terrified Korman, was that there was a waiting list to serve as part of a crew.

"Korman, are you alright? I can't have one of my fleet commanders losing focus here."

Korman shook his head "I'm here, Sir. Sorry. Was just thinking."
"Well we're out of time to be doing that. If you can't keep your head on, then turn command over to your flag hunter so he can get your ships moving." Korman looked back at Phelan, head shaking "I'm good Sir. We'll follow in right behind you. And I'll make sure we have a few canister rounds in the firing queue; just in case any gunboats get close."

"Ah, good. You were paying attention. Alright. Warm up your drives. We're going in." Out of view of the comm pickup Phelan was waving to someone, and from Korman's own repeater he could see the whole of the fleet advancing in a single lockstep formation. By the time he looked back at Phelan, the connection had already been cut.

https://dpsyards.files.wordpress.com/20 ... alls-1.png
The State Calls for Vengeance, and We shall Answer!
- Motto and logo of the dWS Sieg
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Not the dawn that we shall see...

Postby Xveers on Wed 02 Dec 2020 05:08

------------------------------------------------------------------------
dWS Hans Zollner
Director Mk4-Class Heavy Cruiser

"-your drives. We're going in."

Phelan cut the connection before looking back up at Mache. "General signal. All ships to advance. Panfilov will manage the small craft, so don't worry about them."

"Understood. Communications, General signal: All ships advance, weapons free." Mache passed along the order, adding on what was understood, but needed to be explicitly ordered. The orders flashed out from the flagship to the rest of the fleet, thirty-nine warships advancing all at once and into range of whatever other defenses remained on the planet. In front of the battle line were two waves of small craft; thirty-nine fighter squadrons and forty-seven gunboat squadrons that were racing ahead of the battle line to engage their own targets.

"Incoming fire from the planet." Mache did his best to stay calm, but it had been the avalanche of fire from the planetary defence centres that had shattered the last two attacks. Both times, the deWulf hadn't quite weathered the storm long enough to turn battle to their advantage. "Estimated fifty-four capital missiles inbound, splitting fire on Adria and Ostsee. Both ships are reporting shields holding."

"They went after our area defense battleships. They won't make that mistake for long." Phelan pulled a fresh stimstick, chomping on the end and taking a harsh drag. He felt his vision sharpen as the drugs rode his bloodstream and accelerated his perceptions. It was a false feeling, but the lives of tens of thousands of deWulf personnel depended on him, and if he could do something, anything, he hoped it might deal with the gnawing tension in his soul.

"Gunboats are trying to cut past the fighter screen; estimated closest pass to fighters 2 LS."

"I'm sure Panfilov and Kraft have it well in hand. They have their fight, and we have ours."

Phelan had said after 2nd Elysium that there wasn't a good way to take a planet, and those words were about to be proved again. The battle was already beginning its decent into a bar-room brawl, and the fight wouldn't be decided on the flag deck, but on every individual command deck and fighter seat. Each individual victory and loss would add up. All that had to be done was to have more victories than the other side. That he had far more pieces helped.

"Another volley coming up from the planet; they're focusing on Ostsee. Hostile ships are in behind enemy gunboats, same course."

"The Baltics are going to have to take care of themselves. General signal to heavy units: enemy warships first, then PDCs. Ibizans to focus on hostile gunboats when possible, but enemy warships have priority." Elysian gunboats continued to bore in on their targets, ignoring their deWulf counterparts, but that single-mindedness had let the fighters close in behind them. The Elysians were a more sophisticated craft, as usual. But the fighters outnumbered them three to two, and the sheer volume of firepower began to tell as gunboats staggered out of formation, only to be pounced by five or six fighters and torn to shreds.

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PDC Hellas, beneath the Palace of Eternal Flight
Highspire

Eyrie Commander Saggitare winced as the board lit up as gunboat after gunboat reported damage or worse, outright destruction.

"My Lord, those smaller craft are tearing into our gunboats... they may not..."

Czar Scion looked down at the Eyrie Commander. When he had first seen all those small craft, he had an idea of just how this battle would go in the end. He had hoped for better, but the truth was that he knew the deWulf had successfully developed countermeasures to the two cornerstones of their defenses.

"Fight your battle, Eyrie Commander."

Fresh orders bolted out to the gunboats, and they changed their attention from those distant dreadnoughts to problems closer at hand.

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dWS Hans Richter
Alex Seidel-Class Carrier

Junior PackHunter Kraft grimaced as the he watched his own tactical plot shift. His command was the fighter squadrons, and he saw the shift in tactics just as his own strike commanders began to relay their own reports. In their haste, some fighter squadrons had dived into the middle of the gunboat swarm, and had not just attracted the attention of the gunboats' defensive weapons, but their onboard strike packages as well. Four entire squadrons disappeared from his status board as the Elysians ripple fired their anti-shipping ordinance into the overeager fighter squadrons. An easy dozen more had suffered some kind of damage, but they had their target square in front of them, and there was no escape for prey or predator.

"All fighters are to fall behind behind the Elysians, stay in their blind spots!"

For some, it was an order that came too late.

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dWS Hans Zollner
Director Mk4-Class Heavy Cruiser

"Admiral Bahram, bring your ships starboard thirty and concentrate on the incoming gunboat squadrons. We'll deal with the warships."

"Understood, Flag" The Ibizans pivoted as one, lining up on their ordered targets.

Phelan was already opening a fresh command circuit to his battleships "Flag to all capital ships: Priority target enemy warships"

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dWS Konrad Gloda
Landser Mk2-Class Battleship

"Sir, incoming signal from Flag..."

"Take a message. Weaponeer! Range to target?"

"Range to Battlecruiser Alph Zero One, Three LS and dropping! Targeting has good lock. Torpedoes are on internal tracking, doors are open!"

The Battleship's CIC was a scene of organized chaos. Riding on the right flank, Konrad Gloda had found herself in front of everything the Elysians were throwing. Elysian gunboats were lining up, their own targeting systems ignoring the battleship's ECM, instead locking onto the massive EM bloom from her drives. The hostile targeting sensors were setting off a symphony of threat alarms, made worse as a battlecruiser selected the Konrad Gloda as something worthy of its attention. In the background the battleship's point defense launchers sent a dull "thump thump thump" echoing through the warship's frame.

"Fire when-"

"Autolaunch set!"

And new sensations entered the fray as all ten of the Kondrad Gloda's plasma torpedo tubes cycled. Once ejected from their tubes, the massive weapons lit off their own drives and covered the short range in bare blink of an eye, nine of the ten impacting square on the nose of the Elysian battlecruiser. Shields shuddered before winking out of existence, forcing the hull to bear the brunt of the violence. Plasma boiled over the battlecruiser’s nose, melting armour and hull equally, the forward third of the ship disappearing entirely in a glowing burst of debris. Only the armored citadel and the battlecruiser's massive engine array remained intact as she continued to close in.

"Autoloaders cycling. Ready to fire in... twenty seconds!"

The CIC felt the deck shudder as ten autoloaders pulled torpedoes from the magazine feeds, passing them through armoured hatches before they were fed into the launch tubes. Hatches opened and closed, air hissing out of the tubes as they depressurized.

"Outer doors opening, targeting has good lock!"

And the cycle continued.

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dWS Hans Zollner
Director Mk4-Class Heavy Cruiser

"Confirmed heavy damage to Elysian Battlecruisers Alph One, Two, Three, and Four. Elysian Dreadnought is... undamaged?"

Junior PackHunter Phelan pinged CIC "CIC, Flag. Confirm status of Elysian Dreadnought."

Both Phelan and Mache looked at Battlecruisers the plot as the single Elysian dreadnought refused to blink or change status.

"Flag, CIC. Confirm. Elysian dreadnought is shields down, but unharmed. We detected a surge in shielding as she was taking hits. It appeared that she regenerated approximately thirty percent of her shields before they failed. CIC is working to confirm. No sign of reoccurrence."

"CIC, this is Junior PackHunter Phelan. Was this seen on any of the battlecruisers? Confirm."

"Negative, PackHunter. We only observed this on the enemy dreadnought. Note that she has minimal shielding: thirty percent regen isn't very much, but we confirm she did regenerate some shielding in combat. CIC out."

Phelan looked up at Mache, his voice low and dry "Did we catch them in a refit cycle? Something they developed but didn't have a chance to roll out fleet-wide?"

"I don't know Sir, but if that's all they have, it's not going to help them."

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RINS King Orbetello

"Target?"

"That battlecruiser to port and down. Beth Four."
"She's a little bit of a stretch, but I think we can get her if we pivot a little."
"Line the shot."

Using the tactical data relayed by dWNS Hans Zollner, the King Orbetello adjusted her nose, swinging her course a few points port and down towards the Elysian target designated Beth Four, one of five battlecruisers that had moved in to try and stop the attacking fleet. Already hit by several torpedoes, she bled atmosphere and structure, but still charged on like a punch-drunk boxer.

"Queen Preveza is following our track. Firing synchronized."

Gone was the comical pretensions that the Royal Ibizan Navy had displayed when they had first fought alongside the deWulf. Their attitude was still incredibly relaxed, but now there was a core of professional steel. Once they had been relaxed because they didn't know better. Now, they were relaxed because they did.

"Lined-"
"Shoot!"

King Orbetello shuddered as her twin mass drivers fired, each one launching a twenty-kilo titanium slug downrange. Queen Preveza fired a moment later, their shots timed to arrive at the same time. Barely fifteen seconds later, both ships shuddered again as a second volley followed the first. For the Elysian cruiser, the first four were bad enough. Shields knocked out, the slugs impacted onto the drive field and became jets of raw energy that speared through her hull, blasting apart what remained of her armour. Reeling, her hull began a slow roll to starboard that her engines struggled to halt. She was already dead, her engines failing when the second volley arrived. One slug passed high, disappearing into space behind the battlecruiser. The drive field flared and died when the second slug hit, its destructive force ablating away into nothing. The final two landed in quick succession on the battlecruiser's spine, shattering the already crippled ship into three separate pieces. What was left of her aft third disappeared when the power plant suffered a runaway power failure, the rest of her breaking apart into a cloud of metal debris.

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dWS Hans Zollner
Director Mk4-Class Heavy Cruiser

"Elysian small craft passing aft!"

The master repeater showed the shattered wave of strike craft flying through the deWulf formation, pushing on towards what was clearly their original target.

Junior PackHunter Phelan was about to send another order when he watched every Baltic-Class battleship pivoted at once, dropping out of formation to focus their attentions on a target they could actually hurt. What had seemed to be a direct path for the gunboats onto their targets proved to be a killing zone as Ibizan heavy cruisers, deWulf fighter squadrons, and a half-dozen Baltics poured out a torrent of fire. Kinetic canister shot, fighter plasma guns and shoals of point defense missiles enveloped one gunboat after another, breaking them apart in twos and threes. Entire squadrons disappearing in a rolling explosion as a Baltic singled out an Elysian squadron to receive its wrath.

The Sieg-Class siege dreadnoughts didn't even have a chance to engage as the gunboats ceased to be a threat, their tracking systems instead watching as a cloud of debris floated out of the combat zone to be picked over by salvage teams in some distant future.

While the Elysian gunboats were being torn apart, every other deWulf and Ibizan warship focused on what was left of the Elysian battlefleet. The Elysian dreadnought found itself targeted by no less than five deWulf battleships, as well as two Ibizan battlecruisers. Even her heavy armour plate couldn't withstand the rain of plasma torpedoes and kinetic rounds. Eventually her drives failed, her hulk pounded until it simply came apart. The few remaining battlecruisers each found themselves targeted by a single deWulf battleship. One on one it would have been a challenging fight. But already crippled, there was little they could do but die with honor.

And die they did.

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PDC Hellas, beneath the Palace of Eternal Flight

Czar Scion and Solon both watched as Saggitare and his command staff struggled to eke out any last bit of defiance they could at the advancing deWulf fleet. With the mobile units destroyed, the deWulf gunboats rained their fire down on the PDCs that remained in action after the initial drone strike. Only one had been destroyed outright, but all but three had their layers of earth and armour blasted away in a hurricane of fire. And freed of other threats, the deWulf fleet began to steadily silence that last line of defense, one PDC at a time.

To them both, it was clear that the end was coming. There was nothing to be gained her once the command center had completely lost everything that was theirs to command. Rather than standing there, having to come up with answers to questions that were better left unasked, they left while there was still something that could be commanded. The doors to Czar Scion's private lift slid open silently, allowing access to a room that looked like a comfortable sitting room rather than a lift car. As they both stepped in, Solon leaned to an attendant standing guard at the outside controls, whispering something. The doors slid shut, but not before Czar Scion could see the attendant leaving his station and walking back into the command centre.

"Off to order your final counterstrike, I take it?"

Solon whirled, looking at Scion as his ruler and God sat down on his reserved seat in the lift. It was climbing up, floor by floor to Scion's private residence at the top of Highspire, but the trip itself was the last thing on Scion's mind.

"I know what you did, by the way. Ordering that we purge the deWulf from their planet. Smothering that investigation into the destruction of part of their district... Southgate, I believe? Once, I cared why, but it doesn't matter anymore. It's out of our hands now."

Solon stood there, his jaw agape as that revelation was laid out so casually, like discussing who was sitting where at a luncheon.

"But then, orders sent out under my seal can be countermanded by me, personally." His voice had gone from being calm and relaxed to ice cold. "I don't know how long you've been... managing me. But I will give you credit. You did it well. It was only after I met Imon that I began to have some inkling. You were right, by the way. Very smart lad. But perhaps a bit more idealistic than you gave me credit. An Imperial Order signed by me personally, on paper in the old way, opened a LOT of doors for him. Enough to have him find out everything I needed to know. How do the commoners say it? Ah, yes. 'Not what you wanted, but what you needed'."

The lift played out a soft and relaxing tune as it slowed to its stop, doors whispering open as Scion stood up and walked out. "Follow me, won't you? We have nowhere else to go."

Solon by now had shut his mouth, but as soon as he had gained some distance, he reached for his own comm "Forgive me my Lord, but I have a message to send." His voice was cold now as well, realizing his status, his life was dangerously exposed.

"Hoping to get some last revenge on Imon? An understandable gesture. But he is beyond ALL our reach. He left months ago, in my private yacht. You remember, the one graciously donated to help send one last bit of supplies to our colony? He left with all of the research he had done in my name as well. What he does with that, I have no idea. But it will be something impressive. Tea?"

The sudden sharp turn in subjects caught Solon off-guard, his voice a shaking stutter as he watched Scion pour out a glass for himself and then for Solon, leaving it in front of a collection of flavourings and juices. Solon's hand fell away from his communicator.

"A pity. It's an excellent blend, Solon. You should know. Still, shall we step out onto the balcony and enjoy the view?"

"My lord, you know that it's still several hours before dawn, and even you cannot see the stars here at Highspire."

The smile that spread across Scion's face was cold, never reaching past his cheekbones as he sipped at the fresh tea. "It is not the dawn that we shall see. Or the twinkling of the stars. It is the future."

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