Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Operation Blind Strike Part 1

So, we have no idea how may of them there are, who exactly they are, where they came from and what their objectives are. What do we know about them?
-Rachel Wrenlock, Dindrenzi Commander for Sector 024

The Aquan and Terran raids on the patrol fleets in Sector 024 met with great success due to the untrained and unprepared nature of their targets the Aquans and Terrans were able to spring  their ambushes, inflict severe damage and then retreat to fold space before the first Arcbolt Railgun had even been fired up. With morale falling fast sector command needed a win, and more importantly they needed intel. And so Operation Blind Strike was born, it was a operation that needed to give the Dindrenzi a win in the sector and gather as much intel as possible on the invading forces. 

The Location of Operation Blind Strike's Naval battle

 Admiral Randa Yount stood attention alongside her remaining Captains; Blake Bates and Lance Mills. The three of them were attending the remembrance ceremony for Olive and Katie Strickland, the twin captains of the Frigate squadrons assigned to Yount’s patrol fleet the Voice of Dramos, and for the rest of the fallen crew . As the preacher from the Church of the Dramos Angels finished his eulogy the assembled crew of the various ships of Younts Patrol fleet saluted, and the coffins containing the proxied remains of the Strickland twins and all the others who had died were shot off into space using the stations torpedo launchers.

The Voice of Dramos had limped into the sector's military base 24 hours ago and upon docking their ships and ensuring their crews were safe the 3 officers had made their way to the sector commander office to give a full report of the engagement. The sector commander had for her part listened intently and, when they had finished speaking, thanked the 3 of them for the report and commended them on their service to the Dindrenzi Federation. She then dismissed them ordering only that they get some well-earned rest and not to blame themselves for what had happened. The next morning they woke, ate and attended the remembrance ceremony.

As the crews departed the observation deck where the ceremony took place the sector commander, one Rachel Wrenlock, called them over. 

“Captains, Admiral. If you would like to follow me back to my office we have much to discuss”. 

She turned to leave and, after a slight moment of hesitation, Yount, Mills and Bates followed. When they reached her office, quite a large room with a full wall view port providng a stunning view of the planet the station was orbiting, they noticed that sitting in one of the chairs around Wrenlock’s office table was a tall lean man in a black combat jacket with the Dindrenzi Ground Forces insignia on its left breast pocket. With a nod towards the man Wrenlock started to speak

“Captain’s, Admiral. May I introduce Colonel Valentine Ziegler of the 21st Dindrenzi Assault Regiment”

Yount and her captains acknowledged Ziegler with a simple nod and sat down in chairs facing Wernlock's desk.

"As you may know by now things are looking pretty bad, we have had reports of sector wide raids against patrol fleets with heavy losses on our side and minimal losses on theirs. The crews stationed here haven't seen combat yet and are suffering for it. On top of this we have no solid numbers for the enemy forces and all we know is that the raiders forces consist of Aquan, Terran, Hawker and Terquai forces. The only bit of good news we have had is Colonel Zieglers discovery and destruction of a remote Aquan science facility,however thats one win in a sea of defeat and its taking a heavy toll on morale. On top of this Glaive Command has yet to respond to our requests for help and so for now we are currently on our own"

Wernlock let the grim news settle in before continuing. The 4 officers all had similar looks of grim resolve as the gravity of the situation sunk in.

"To put things plainly we need a win, and you 4 are our best bet at getting that win. You have had the best results so far and thankfully we lucked out and have a target for you."

She pushed a button on her keyboard and the shutters on her offices view ports closed and 3D hologram of a Aquan carrier appeared in mid air over her desk

"This is a  Aqaun Charybdis carrier, stock standard aside from one key point, we believe that has valuable data relating to either the planet the raiders are using as a base or intel relating to enemy numbers within the sector. It is vital that we capture or disable this ship and recover the intel on it. Admiral Yount your task in this is to lead your fleet in a direct attack on the Aquan fleet that this carrier is leading. One of our recon patrols lucked out and detected this fleet before it discovered them and we able to report back to us. Colonel Ziegler will be guests aboard your flagship, your primary goal is to get with assault pod range of the carrier and deploy the Colonel and his Marine onto the ship where they will attempt to recover the intel, if you are unable to do this then simply disable the ship and recover the intel after the battle. Your secondary objective is to destroy as many Aquan ship as you can."

"Ma'ma my fleet was damaged in our last engagement, will we be receiving any replacement ships?"

"You will, repairs have already been completed on the Hitchens and Captain Mill's heavy cruiser squadrons. Unfortunately the gunships were too badly damaged and we were unable to them repair in time. We do have 2 frigate squadrons and a corvette squadron, Captain Bates you may take you pick of those , i know its not what you are used to but its what we have"

"Thank you Ma'ma, i will take one of the frigate squadrons"

"As you wish Bates. Now the Hitchens will not just be hosting Colonel Ziegler's Marines. You will also be transporting the Colonel regiment, if the intel on the carrier does lead to a base of operations then you are to make all speed to that location and destroy it, do you all understand your orders"?"

Wrenlock nodded approvingly at the chours of "Ma'am yes Ma'ams"

"Good, you leave at 0600 tomorrow. Good luck you are dismissed"

As the ships captains filed out Ziegler remained seated. As the door closed behind them Wernlock addressed him

"Your part in this is the hardest Colonel, do you think you can handle it?"

"I think i don't have a choice, you were right we do need a win and we cant get it without me and my men. Yeah Yount may well beat the Aqauns in space but to make this win meaningful we need that intel, so you need me"

"Good, you are dismissed Ziegler. Load your men onto the Hitchens at 0530 tomorrow and good luck"

Ziegler nodded and turned to leave, as he was halfway out the door Wernlock spoke up

"And Ziegler, the eyes of Rense are upon you. For your own sake don't screw this up"

Ziegler nodded stiffly and closed the door behind him. Alone now on her office Wernlock started aimlessly at the hologram of the Aquan ship and cursed whatever cruel luck had put her in this situation. Come what may tomorrow she only hoped that Yount, Mills, Bates and Ziegler got through the operation alive.

As Yount, Mills and Bates were walking down the corridor Ziegler jogged up behind them.

"Yount could i have a word"


Waving Mills an Bates onwards she turned to face Ziegler

"Admiral it is of the up most importance that i get on board that carrier"

"I Know Ziegler, its our primary objective i understand its importance"

"I just want to make sure that you are incredibly clear that i absolutely need to get on board that ship"

"Understood Colonel"

Ziegler saluted and walked off down that corridor. As Yount caught back up with her captains Mills spoke up.

"What was that about"

"No idea, the Colonel seemed very insistent that i get him on board the carrier"

"What? Did he think we don't understand what a primary objective is"

"No idea but come on, we have battle to plan"

Back in his own quarters Ziegler sat down heavily and sighed. With the RSN watching this mission closely he knew that there would be no room for errors, it was victory or death. He just hoped that he had communicated the importance of him getting on that carrier to Yount, he didn't want to think about what would happen if he failed.

The area of space were the engagement was to take place was serene and silent. Gas clouds refracted the light of distant stars and bathed the near by asteroid fields in a pale blue light. Small planetoids attracted rock and ice debris causing them to have pale halos of frozen iron and rock.

Such a serene area of space would, to the untrained ships captain, seem like the most unlikely area for a engagement. However the Captain of the Aquan carrier was no untrained captain and so when the Dindrenzi ships began to appear on his long range senors he was able to form his fleet into a battle formation without missing a beat. On board the Hitchens Yount smiled grimly, this would be no easy fight. She quickly issued orders to the squadrons, bunching them together in one area, fooling the Aquans and leaving some of their squadrons far away from their own ships.

Admiral Yount opted for a "Castle" deployment, forming all her ships in one area and forcing elements of the Aquan fleet to come to her

As soon as her ships were in position Yount ordered the Hitchens forward. As the ship past by the gas cloud the ship shock and alarms rang through the bridge. Mines had been deployed throughout the area and the Hitchens had just rammed straight into one, though thankfully with minimal damage. On board his heavy cruiser "Objection Sustained" captain Mills winced as one of his cruisers suffered a similar fate, this time with more damage. As the Dindrenzi heavy ships moved forward Mills wondered how many more dammed mines were lurking in the area.

The larger Dindrenzi ships suffer damage from hither to undetected mines
Captain Blake Bates sighed. Usually a gunship captain in Admiral Yount's fleet he was reduced to a frigate captain, at least Yount had given him command of both squadrons though he still would have preferred his gunships and he could tell that his other gunship captians, in command of the other 2 frigates in his squadron, felt the same. As he was brooding a squadron of Aquan frigates sped up right in front of the gas cloud near his position.

"Captain 2nd squadron has firing solutions on the enemy squadron, requesting permission to fire" said his comms officer

"They have it, tell them to fire at will"

The void between the Aquan and Dindrenzi Squadron was suddenly full of Kinetic rounds and torpedoes as the Dindrenzi ships fired. Each Dindrenzi ship targeted a single Aquan frigate and by the time the Dindrenzi ships fell silent the Aquan squadron was wiped out.

Aquan frigates, hoping to get a few shots in on the Dindrenzi cruisers and Battleship find themselves the targets of the 2nd Dindrenzi frigate squadron
The cheers of the 2nd frigate squadron were cut short as lances of plasma spat out from the large gas cloud in the centre of the engagement zone, a Squadron of Aquan cruisers who had been deployed on the far left flank had come darting through the cloud and wiped out the frigate squad in a blizzard of plasma bolts.

Back on board his own ship Bate had a hard choice to make, he could try and avenge the frigates or go a Aquan destroyer squadron that had appeared on the other side of the far planetoids they had passed behind.  Deciding to go for the destroyers Bate's used the nearby planetoid's gravity well to slingshot forward into optimal weapons range. With a savage grin Bates ordered his squad to fire all weapons at the destroyers. One ship was hammered by punishing kinetic rounds and soon a vast gaping was rent in the middle of the ship appeared. Water was sucked into the void and instantly frozen as the ship slowly started to drift, then as a series torpedoes  landed squarely inside the jagged hole in the ships mid section the ship was torn apart from internal explosions.

Bates's victory was short lived. Darting through the asteroid field to his left came a swam of Aqaun fighters launched form the carrier on the other side of the field. At the same time these were firing on his squadron the remaining destroyer opened up as well. As the other ships around him either broke apart from bombing runs or were vaporised by plasma beams Bates ordered his own ship forward, he would kill that dammed destroyer even if it killed him.

As Bate's savours his triumph as his squadron comes under attack by Aquan fighters
Reeling from the Aquan fighter attack Bate's squadron is left helpless as the Aquan destroyer brings its weapons to bear
Space distorted and a rift opened behind the Aquan carrier from which 4 Dindrenzi corvettes came through. On route to the battle site Yount had made it very clear to the captains of the corvettes that they would be given a task that would result in their deaths. They had been charged with shunting in behind the Aquan carrier and damaging it as much as possible, weakening it before Yount moved in for the kill. Their name's already entered into the list of those KIA in this operation the corvette captains gave a good account of them themselves, their shunt perfectly timed to allow them to race up behind the Aquan ship and shred the aft section in a blizzard of fire.

The Dindrenzi corvettes arrive near the Aquan carrier
The Aquan carrier loses hull integrity and has its PD network taken offline as the effects of the Dindrenzi strafing run is felt.
To the credit of the Aquan escort ships attached to the carrier they acted with commendable speed. As the Dindrenzi ships were halfway through their strafing run they launched mines from the rear of their crafts. These mines sailed right into the midst of the Dindrenzi squadron and detonated, wiping out the entire squadron in one vast silent fire ball. On board the Hitchens Yount saw this and murmured a silent  prayer for the ships' crews, they had done their duty and that was all she could ask.

With the Dindrenzi corvettes gone the Aquan cruisers and carrier advance
Yount's moment of quite reflection was broken as Ziegler's angry voice burst on over her personal comms

"Yount, why the hell haven't you taken us into boarding range!"

"The enemy carrier is too well guarded by fighters, bombers and cruisers. I cannot risk a boarding action at this time."

"Dammit Yount if that ship escapes because you were too much of a coward to get in their and allow me to do my job then you will wish you were dead."

"Point taken Colonel"

As she shut off the comms channel Yount addressed her comms officer

"Lieutenant please ensure that the Colonel as no access to out going comms for the rest of the engagement"

As her comms officer saluted her and took to his task with a wiry grin Yount addressed the bridge.

"Take us forward, and tell the gun crews and officers to make ready, its time for Hitchens to speak.

The Hitchens and the heavy cruisers powered forward around the gas cloud and bought their weapons to bear on the oncoming Aquan ships. However just before the Hitchen's Arcbolt Railgun fried the ship was rocked by a series of explosion on its aft section. 6 Aquan corvettes had pulled the same trick their Dindrenzi counter parts had.

Aquan corvettes pull the same move as the Dindrenzi and shunt in behind the Hitchens to immediate effect
Captain Mill's saw all this from his tactical hololith display. As Yount's second he has access to tactical data second only to Younts. He also had his ships prepare for this exact eventuality as it was a tactic much favoured by the Aquans. His Squadron had been dropping a steady trail of mines from the start of the engagement. As the Aqaun ships pursued the Hitchens they triggered those same mines. The Aquan ships met the same fate as the Dindrenzi ships, a silent inferno commingling their ships with its fiery hunger.

The Aquan corvettes suffer the same fate as their Dindrenzi counter parts
Yount smiled at her second's Initiative, she had noticed the mines but hadn't questioned them as she trusted Mill's decisions and that trust had been rewarded. Now she ordered the Hitchens and Mill's squadron forward, the Aquan cruisers and carriers were before her and she still had a battle to win.

Bate's was unable to even notice Mill's mines, or the destruction of the Aquan corvettes, he was to busy raging at fate. His ship was burning and slowly breaking up from Aquan bombers as they had strafed the length of his ship, he raged that he wouldn't die on board his beloved gunship, he raged at Yount for even accepting this damm mission, he raged Aquans for raiding sector 024 and putting them in this position but most of all he raged that he was going to die and there wasn't a damm thing he could do about it. As the ship began to break apart from the Aquan's bombs the last Aquan destroyer, perhaps wanting vengeance for the loss of its comrade spat forth a bolt of burning white hot plasma. This bolt slammed through the middle of the Dindrenzi ships front facing and ripped it apart from within, this caused munitions dumps and fuel cells to rupture and explode tearing the ship apart.

Yount noted Bate's death, she had also noted the heroic actions of both frigate squadrons and would recommending all of the frigate captains for commendations, but first she had battle to win. With clear and concise orders she bought the Hitchen's Arcbolt Railguns to bear on the Aquan carrier through the asteroid field that was between the two ships. She had taken note of the fearsome toll the Aquan fighters and bombers had reaped on her ships and though the Hitchens was the best ship in the fleet there wasn't any way the ship could stand to that kind of punishment. With this in mind she resorted to plan B, disable the ship and recover the data after the fight. The ships gunnery officer broke her thoughts.

"Ma'am we have firing a solution on the Aquan carrier, awaiting your command to fire"


The Arcbolt Railgun on board the Hitchens was the largest variety currently in the sector. It ran the length of the ship's hull and fired a Kinetic round at hyper velocity. It had the power to split smaller ships in half and inflict major damage on capital ships. Even though the Aquan carrier had a asteroid field in between it and the Dindrenzi ship this didn't count for much. The Kinetic slug smashed through the field an smashed into the aft section of the carrier with the intent of knocking out the engines. The Aquan ship  spun 90 degrees from the force of the impact and the slowly righted itself with its severely damaged engines straining from the pressure, while it wasn't out of the fight yet it had felt the wrath of Hitchen's voice.

The Aquan carrier limps out from behind the asteroid field after being hit by the Hitchen's fire
As the remaining Dindrenzi ships moved closed to the Aquan carrier and cruisers the last Aquan destroyer attempted to move in behind the ships for a devastating broadside. It failed to notice until the last second the Dindrenzi bombers hurtling towards it. These bombers had been dispatched from the Hitchens by Yount to avenge Bates and now they took their shot. Flying parallel with the destroyer's broadsides the bombers released their cargo as the ship maneuvered, the bombs bypassing the ships shields destroyed the guns and detonated ammo reverses. While this didnt destroy the ship out right it did leave it  gutted,  a floating hulk in space destined to join the other debris forming the halo of the near by planetiod.

Ziegler was furious. Stuck inside his assault pod he had been forced to watch as the Yount engaged the carrier at long range instead of getting into assault range. While Yount's chosen plan of disabling the carrier should work it had too greater risk of destroying the ship and the Intel it held and as it was Ziegler's future on the line here, not Younts, he had become increasingly frustrated at the way the battle was going and the fact he had been shut out of outgoing comms only made things worse. Finally Ziegler lost it and started roaring orders.

"Rense Dammit someone find me a way to contact the damm bridge right now before i castrate someone!"

As the Hitchens began its duel with the carrier Mills and his squadron started targeting the remaining Aquan cruisers. The carrier was Yount's fight and Mills acknowledged it, it was his job to ensure that the cruisers were unable to intervene. The Aquan cruisers had already taken fire from Mill's squadron and now they numbered 3 ships . With a simple command Mills order his ships to open fire.

Although the Railguns on the heavy cruisers were smaller than the ones of the Hitchens they were still devastating, after they had fallen silent and the torpedo launch tubes had emptied there were only 2 Aqaun cruisers left. Determined to even the odds the Aquan cruisers and bombers had targeted Mill's squadron and claimed one ship while damaging the others. 

The Dindrenzi Cruisers inflict serve damage to the Aqaun ships
The Aquans respond in kind
Youtn watched all this impassively as bridge crew of the Hitchens scurried around her complying with her orders. The railgun was almost reloaded and when it had she would order it to fire at the rear of the Aquan carrier, she knew the risks involved, that the carrier might just exploded but right now she had no choice as her fleet was too badly damaged and the carrier too well guarded by fighters and bombers to risk approaching. As her gunnery officer informed her that the railgun was ready to fire Zielger's voice burst over the bridge's comm system.

"Yount don't you fucking dare fire at the carrier, do you hear me??"

"I hear you Ziegler, and while i acknowledge your request i will not comply with it."


"No Ziegler you listen to me, you are a guest aboard my ship, my ship. The naval aspect of this operation is mine to command not yours and while i know you are obsessively eager to get aboard that ship you will not have that opportunity right now. My assessment is that i risk this ship, its crew, you and your forces if i try and get within assault range and i will not risk all those lives just to allow you to have the glory of boarding that ship"

"Glory? You think this is about Glory?"

"I do, i saw your reports and i think you are nothing more than a jumped up drop troop commander who is trying to tell a naval officer the best way to fight her battles. So if you will kindly shut up i have a ship to disable. Gunnery officer fire at that carrier"

As Ziegler's mindless scream of rage echoed around the bridge, until the comms officer found a way to shut of the comms system, the Hitchen's spoke once more hurling its deadly kinetic round right into the crippled aft section of the Aquan carrier. As the round hit the entire aft section simply disintegrated and the carrier began to spin towards the nearby gas cloud with the force of the hit. The ship spiralled as it went leaving behind it a trail of debris, frozen water and Aquan crew members all of which left a impressive trail of ruin behind the now disabled ship. Moments later the escort ships accompanying the carrier jumped to fold space leaving only the Aquan cruisers to try and avenge their comrades.

As Aquan cruisers try and destroy the Dindrenzi ships the Hitchen's lines up the killing shot
The Aquan carrier is disabled and left floating dead in space ready for Dindrenzi salvage teams
Mills noted the disabling of the Aquan carrier with pride and then turned his attention to the Aquan cruisers. While they were out of effective weapons range their weren't out of mine range. Issuing orders to his crew Mills ordered his squadron forward at full speed while also ordering mines be dropped. Hopefully Yount could deal with any of the ships the mines didn't, as the ship powered away Mills saw that one of the Aquan ships had indeed been destroyed by the mines, leaving only one left.

The Hitchens shock with the impact of plasma fire as the Aquna cruiser, wounded but still in the fight, fired.  Yount couldn't bring her railgun to bear on the ship the gun racks were ineffective at this range. As Yount was thinking of a way to deal with the ship her ship security commander came on over her personal comms.

"Ma'ma, Colonel Ziegler is trying to force his way out of his assault pod, would you like him detained?"

A idea occurred to Yount as her officer was speaking.

"No, leave him be. I think we have just the job for the good Colonel"

As the Aquan cruiser seeks to avenge its fallen comrades Admiral Yount finds a use for Colonel Ziegler
Ziegler was at the point of murder. Yount had risked everything just because she was too much of a coward to do what had to be done. If he found out that the intel had been harmed in anyway then he would find away to painfully kill her, if only he could just get out of this dammed pod.

As Ziegler and his men beat upon the pod's door they felt heard a thump and were suddenly hurled back as the pod's thrusters fired. As his men struggled back into their harness Zeigler bought up his tactical display and saw that the other 3 pods had been a Aquan cruiser. As the pod slammed through the ships hull and its door's opened Ziegler grinned. While the Aquan's weren't Yount they would provide a excellent target for his anger.

Ziegler and his men are finally launched on the hapless Aquan cruiser.
With the last enemy ship captured Yount moved the Hitchens into boarding range of the Aquan carrier and dispatched security teams to board the ship and download the contents of the ships computers. Mills ships took up picket positions nearby and when all this was done Yount finally dispatched shuttles to the Aquan cruiser, to recover Ziegler and his men and recover any useful intel the ship may have. When Ziegler was found aboard the ship he was escorted at gun point back to the shuttles, he and his men disarmed and made virtual prisoners such was Yount's distrust of the Colonel.

Later on Yount sat in the briefing room of the Hitchens along with Mills and Ziegler, who was accompanied by 2 heavily armed ship security personal. Before them was the translated Intel that the Aquan carrier had been carrying. The Intel hadn't been harmed by the disabling but none the less it wasn't what they were expecting. Ziegler broke the silence.

"So, its a planet?"

Yount responded. "Yes, your field of warfare i believe. Why were you expecting more?"

"Yes actually. A list of forces in the sector, a complete map of their positions"

"Reality doesn't work that way, maybe it does in the fiction books but in the real world no one is that stupid, Mills?"

"Yes Ma'am"

"I want you to take your squadron, and the captured Aquan cruiser, back to sector command with a copy of this Intel and inform them of our success. Check your ships in for repairs and then take a well earned rest, you earned it"

"What about you?"

"I will be taking the Colonel and his regiment straight to this planet so he can destroy any Aquan forces on it. The Intel makes no mention of Aquan naval units and even if it did your ships are too damaged to take them, the Hitchens can."

Ziegler spoke before Mills could

"In that case i will leave and prepare my men. Captain, admiral"

As he left Yount turned to Mills.

"Make sure when you report to Wrenlock that you make specific mention of Ziegler's conduct during he fight. While we do need everyone we can for this fight that shouldn't mean that his actions should go un noted"

"It would be my pleasure Yount"

As Mills left Yount turned back to holographic projection of their target planet and grinned, it was time for the Aquans to go on the defencive for a change.

There you have it. Part one of my two part report. The next part will cover a planetfall game.
Until next time.

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