(35) To Be Named
The Crusader Campaign (140-1123)
This file has yet to be fully
This file has yet to be fully
So at 06:00 the battle will start, Nightshade will attack from the
front. Sir Misha has chosen the front fleet on point as their
target, the New Rome fleet.
Commodore von Krantzhoff has informed them of the
defending fleet's orders. His inspiring speech celebrated
defeat. The upcoming defeat, today or tomorrow, will be one of
the greatest defenses in the history of the Imperium. All ships
have been given permission to jump out at any time. Of course
there's a catch -- jumping from within 10 diameters is exceedingly
dangerous, and none of the defenders have the slightest chance of even
getting above 1 diameter. Any ships that do make it out are to
rendezvous at Katarulu. Also there is still quite a
number of non-starships, including many battle riders. Those
would have to make it to the innermost world, where the tenders are
orbiting. Von Krantzhoff stated that Santanocheev is unlikely to
be taking any prisoners -- it would be faster for him to shoot
everything down than to accept surrenders.
Kalida pulls out her knowledge of military history
and brings up an old Terran scenario, the Alamo. In that case
too, the outnumbered defenders were fighting a delaying action.
This fight will go down in history too -- "Remember Tussinian!"
In six hours from the start of the fight,
Santanocheev will have been delayed for two days. There is a
reasonable chance that the defenders can stretch this upcoming fight
out by that long. Making another three days beyond that is
It's now about an hour until the fighting will
start. Nightshade is leading the defending ships on
point, intending to spread chaos and distract the enemy.
On board, the crew have taken up their normal battle
stations. Kalida as gunner, Helia as pilot, Sir Misha on the
command dais, Callisto console 6, Shark at 10, Robert at 9, Mich in
Engineering, Vonish in the Galley, Bridgehead in Sick Bay, Teri in full
battledress in the Galley, Jack in her stateroom. Bridgehead has
ready any drugs they might need to get through the battle.
Shark suggests that after the battle they should
board one of the enemy wrecks and take one of their communications
officers prisoner for Jack and the Doctor to interrogate. It
would be really useful to be able to use the Blue Screen of Death Ray
against Santanocheev's forces.
The football sensors are set up to alert Shark of
any readings outside background noise. He is of course expecting
readings from Helia, Kalida, and Sir Misha's flying lizard.
Nightshade's crew will have a clear tactical
initiative advantage over the other two forces.
Kalida says that three days delay would probably be
enough, but they'll also have to factor in how much damage is done to
Santanocheev's forces, how long that will take to repair.
The defending fleets are set up as a flat rectangle
in low orbit. On the starboard bow is Tr-X-1, port
bow Tr-X-2, port aft Trin, starboard aft Murchison.
The attackers are coming in as a pyramid that will
set on the top of the defenders, in sets of four increasingly closer
together from the base to the top. At the very top is the Llanamith
Tigress Battle Group, with the attacker's one remaining Happy Fun Ball
as the flotilla's flagship. That would cause local numerical
advantages everywhere, with the flexibility to move fleets around to
exploit advantages or reinforce weak points.
The bottom layer base diamond consists of New Rome
at the bow on point, Emape to port, Raweh to starboard, and Jone
bringing up aft.
The second layer is vertically just outside the
defender rectangle. On the starboard bow is Iderati, port bow
Elixabet, port aft Motmos, starboard aft Mille Falcs.
The third layer diamond is vertically inside the
defenders. Gl-X-1 is at bow, Glisten to port, the Darotukshi
Battle Group (minus Darotukshi herself, of course) to
starboard, with Gl-X-2 to aft.
The Llanamith Battle Group is positioned
centrally above the third layer.
What remains of Eqypt and Mirriam is out of action
near the innermost moon.
Nightshade is matching the defender fleets
in a higher circulation, in stealth mode. They will want to go to
shields before the defender laser fire can detect them. They will
lead the defender fleets, engaging first, just a little before the
Imperial forces can start firing. They want to get into expander
range of significant ships as fast as possible, but it will be at the
cost of more difficult evasion and harder shots. They will be
coming in very fast, decelerate very hard, and accelerate back to match
motion with the orbiting fleets.
Helia's idea is that they come in fast and bounce
through the upper atmosphere to help slow themselves down and sweep
into position. The larian is very excited at this prospect.
It will make Kalida's targetting even more difficult, but she thinks
she can manage. Helia says they can use the atmosphere to squeeze
like a melon seed and squirt up into the center of the fleet before
they can react.
They will force the attackers to react, and with
some luck disrupt their formation as well. They will engage when
the Imperial forces are reaching laser range, but before serious
weapons open fire.
Helia shoots towards the New Rome fleet. Just
outside laser range she flips from stealth to shields, hurtling in at a
very high closing speed. She dives down into the atmosphere,
leaving a plasma trail behind as she flexes her wings and powers them
up into a vertical climb up through the middle of New Rome.
At 05:50, the shooting starts, ten minutes before
the two flotillas engage. Kalida has a clear shot at one of the
cruisers on the outer shell. She nails it with the expander.
At 06:00, as the flotillas start exchanging missile
fire, Nightshade sweeps up into the center of the New Rome
fleet core. They have caught the Imperials completely flat-footed
and there is no return fire at all. Kalida targets the flagship
and takes it down with the expander. The reaction to the blast
knocks it back, and it starts to fall out of orbit through the fleet,
breaking up the central core formation as other ships maneuver to get
out of the way.
Shark makes a point of monitoring the overall battle
This fleet was moving to engage the defenders, but
instead holds to fight Nightshade instead. That leaves
Trin's elite Tr-X-2 fleet with just Elixabet to deal with.
It's 06:10, and Helia is starting heavy
evasion. Kalida fires and takes down another capship, which spins
down through the mid-layers of the fleet, disrupting the formation even
Nightshade gets three incoming meson shots
this time, one of which is a wild miss. The other two land on the
shields, but are too separate to matter.
At 06:20 it's now essentially a knife-fight range
with the central core of New Rome. Kalida takes down yet another
capship. They take five shots on the shields this time, but they
come in two bursts; there is a little afterglow but no weakness.
Elsewhere, Tr-X-2 are dominating Elixabet, which has
not been reinforced.
By 06:30, the attackers are starting to shift their
fleets in response to the developing battle. Gl-X-1 is moving
into the second layer and towards port to support Elixabet, which is
still taking heavy losses. The Trin fleet, on the port aft corner
of the defenders, is suffering badly too.
Kalida takes out another capship with the expander,
causing a kill but not breaking the formation. There are signs
that the crew of this ship are managing to abandon it
successfully. The shields take three hits.
Gl-X-1 moves into the second layer at 06:40, filling
in for Elixabet which is attempting to withdraw.
Trin is holding against Emape and Motmos in its
weakened state, but definitely getting the worst of the fight.
Motmos has more room to maneuver, but Emape is expending less
fuel. Neither are suffering any more losses than the other.
The other two defender fleets are holding their own
as well as could be expected, without significant losses on either side.
After a brief discussion with Shark and Kalida, Sir
Misha decides they must help Trin. Kalida's says that the more
they zip around and cause disruption, the better.
Helia reverses and dives back into the atmosphere,
killing their orbital velocity and dropping them back to aft of the
defender formation, aiming for the nearer Emape in the base
diamond. On the way out, Kalida kills another capship, leaving
New Rome trying to gather their formation behind them. They take
insignificant fire from the outer layers on the way out.
By 06:50 it is clear that Gl-X-1 is performing
better than Elixabet. The latter is wrecked and moving up,
shedding ships on the way, in complete rout. The Glisten fleet is
also starting to move down from the third layer towards
Gl-X-1. New Rome is starting to regroup.
Tr-X-2 is getting a bit of a breather with the
attacker relieving maneuver above them.
The Trin fleet is suffering badly still, now down to
about half strength, although inflicting losses on Emape and
Motmos. Emape is taking the brunt of the fire, but Motmos is
doing quite well.
On the other side of the fight, Murchison is
starting to knuckle under to the superior numbers facing it.
Nightshade swoops up from the atmosphere,
spearing into the Emape fleet. Emape is in a convex dish, with
the cruiser shell protecting the capship sphere. Helia hurtles up
between the two components.
Kalida makes a perfect shot, knocking Emape's
flagship back through the cruiser shell.
At 07:00, over an hour into the battle, New Rome is
still regrouping and not yet moving to engage.
Where the defenders are pushing their local
advantage, Tr-X-2 is doing well, but their opposing Gl-X-1 is also in
good shape. The Glisten fleet that was moving into that fight
have over-maneuvered, dropping too fast and too low, and their
restricted maneuverability while recovering exposed them to heavy fire.
Murchison is doing a little better.
The Trin fleet, while still very weak at under half
strength, is rallying and pushing into Emape through the opening gap in
the cruiser shell, leaving Motmos lagging behind them. Emape is
trying to fill the front dish back in, but it's leaving the capship
core exposed to Trin.
That's left Nightshade right in the middle
of the crossfire between Trin and Emape. Helia climbs them up to
Emape's higher cruiser dish, which is in the process of switching to
concave to hit Trin's exposed flank.
Kalida now has some suitable missile targets, and
Sir Misha authorizes her to use 100 missiles. He is a little
concerned that Santanocheev might have something up his sleeve, but
feels that 620 is enough to deal with it.
First she takes out one cruiser with the
expander. She follows that up with six fast bursts of eight
missiles each. That results in one clear kill, three falling with
no drive (one of leaving a trail of fuel), one with surface damage, but
one of her targets takes down all the incoming missiles.
In response, Emape's core is concentrating on Nightshade
rather than the incoming Trin. Three shots cluster on the power
stern, causing the shields to ripple but not weaken.
By 07:10, the Emape fleet has recognized their bad
position, essentially having had their formation split in half, and is
dispersing and withdrawing. With Nightshade having been
Emape's priority target, Trin has suffered no more losses.
Nevertheless, exploiting the hole in Emape has left Trin in a bad
formation to engage the Motmos fleet, coming in from behind them.
Gl-X-2 is now in position to come in and reinforce Motmos. Motmos
is looking strong, attacking in standard Imperial formation.
Murchison is definitely starting to yield under the
Tr-X-1 is still in good shape on the starboard
corner, all the fleets in that battle being conservative and working on
position rather than charging in.
Tr-X-2 is now coming under heavy fire from
Gl-X-1. Glisten is recovering from their mistake but suffering
damage while they do it. New Rome has finished regrouping and has
now started to move back in towards Tr-X-2, but is not in range to
engage yet. In half an hour or so, Tr-X-2 might well be facing
The two Tigress Battle Groups have not moved from
their initial formation positions.
Sir Misha directs them to meet Motmos head-on,
giving Trin much-needed time to rearrange themselves. Helia dives
down in a swoop into the center of the approaching Motmos
formation. She does it so well that Kalida can get an expander
shot at the core while still bursting missiles at the shell.
Kalida doesn't have a choice of target with Helia's
path, just selecting targets as the opportunity arises. She fires
six bursts of eight missiles on the way in, now having expended a total
Two of her targets explode, with a third definite
kill. One is stripped of offensive capability, pulling out of the
battle but otherwise functional. The missiles wipe everything off
the outside of another and take out the bridge, and it too pulls
out. The final one is crippled, pulling up slowly and ponderously.
On the way in, however, Nightshade takes
significant fire. Two shots hit the shields and cause no
problems, but those are followed up by four more in a good spread,
weakening them a little for 30 seconds. After that, four
perfectly coordinated and spread shots from the capships land, causing
big ripples -- the shields go near-blue and take a full four minutes to
Kalida responds with an expander shot, killing a
dreadnought in the Motmos fleet core. The combination of that
kill and the cruisers on the way in has opened a hole in the
formation. It's also drawn the fire of the fleet, and they've
achieved the goal of giving Trin some time.
It's going to be hard to hold this until noon for
the two days. The attackers are now committing almost all their
fleets, with only the two battle groups not yet engaged. Two of
the attacker fleets have pulled out. At the very least, if
Santanocheev's schedule isn't impeded enough, his force will be