Monday, November 8, 2010

Laurels, Part 2

General Andrew Sullivan had never been angrier in his life. “Permission to speak freely, sir.”

Shirish paused for a moment as he considered the request. He knew Sullivan’s reputation for heated clashes and harsh talk. Were it not for that, Sullivan might possibly have had a third star by now. Of course, letting Sullivan vent now might save a lot of trouble further down the line. Nobody else could see or hear so it wouldn’t be detrimental to the crew if anything…impolitic was said. “Permission granted.”

“Where do you get off taking my ship?” Sullivan snarled through clenched teeth.

Shirish mulled over the question. He knew from reading Sullivan’s file that he was incredibly aggressive, the primary trait that had propelled him to this position. He also had a certain charmed fortune about him. Sullivan was often in the right place at the right time to benefit from the mistakes or misfortunes of others. The real question was whether he merely capitalized on opportunities or created them. Shirish’s guess was ruthless capitalization. Sullivan seemed too hot-headed to “create” opportunities without being seen and anticipated. But what Shirish did not have to guess about, seeing Sullivan’s young (for a general) hulking frame towering over him, was that Sullivan was a strong believer in the art of intimidation. Shirish thought that things like that were left behind in college fraternities or the barracks rooms of military academies. Of the possible stances he could take in replying to the question, counter-intimidation seemed the best way to proceed. He would have to break Sullivan and do it fast.

Shirish extended a finger and poked it to Sullivan’s chest. “Number one: the Winfield Scott is not ‘your’ ship. It is Earthforce’s ship. And it is under the command of whomever it is assigned to!”

Shirish extended a second finger and poked them into Sullivan’s chest. “Number two: that’s a bold question to ask considering I have four stars on my shoulders and you have only two!”

Shirish extended a third finger and poked them all into Sullivan’s chest. “Number three: my orders come directly yes I said DIRECTLY from the PRESIDENT! Therefore, the fleet is my fleet and the Scott is MY ship! Are we clear, Major General?”

Sullivan narrowed his eyes as his jaw twitched. His shoulders relaxed slightly. “Who did I piss off this time, then?”

Shirish might have breathed a sigh of relief if he didn’t think it would undermine his posture. “It’s not about you. It’s about our orders and the mission.”

“That’s bull and you know it. It’s always about politics.”

Shirish maintained his dominance. Sir.”

Sullivan gazed back. “That’s bull and you know it, Sir.”

Shirish wielded the stick and it seemed to be working. Time to offer the carrot. “It is politics, Major General, but not the kind you think.” He softened his tone. “Look, I know you’re thinking about your career here. This assignment is a big feather in your cap and now it looks like someone else is going to get the credit. I’m sorry for that, but, once again, it has nothing to do with you or me. I didn’t make the orders. I’m just following them.”

The anger abated in Sullivan’s eyes just a little bit. Shirish’s acting job was successful. Time to reinforce everything. Shirish backed away out of Sullivan’s face and sat down behind the ready room desk. Remove the immediate threat and subtly maintain dominance... “Besides, I’ll probably be spending most of my time chained to a desk. You’re the one who’s going to be riding fire. I know I don’t have to tell you the importance of engaging the enemy but I give you my word: you do well in this and I’ll make it the goal of the rest of my career to get you that third star. Are we clear?”

Sullivan knew it was too late to win this one. He held his contempt and let go of a “Yes, sir.”

“Excellent. Make preparations for the fleet to jump. As soon as the scout telemetry comes in, I want us underway. Dismissed.” Shirish took a datapad and began reviewing consumption logs, taking his eyes from Sullivan.

Sullivan closed the door behind him, gave orders to bridge personnel and then went down the hall to cool himself down. It didn’t work. His thoughts were racing and gave him no solace. Damn fossils! I follow orders and I suffer. I work hard and they get the credit. This is my command. I earned it! And what? Does Gonzales think I’m stupid? ‘Rest of my career to get you a third star’ my ass! He’s a relic! How long until he retires? A year? Two? I’m sick of all these old men in my way! I’ll have a third star and it won’t be from you! You’ll screw up and when I come to the rescue, I’ll have it…SIR!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Laurels, Part 1

“Amazing, isn’t she?”

Shirish looked at the bridge view screen like a child seeing his heart’s desire for the first time, eyes wide and mouth agape. “I’ve read all the reports and schematics, but in my dreams, I never imagined…”

Captain Nagumo ordered the Minotaur to pull alongside the Winfield Scott. “Quite a far cry from the old days, wouldn’t you say, sir?”

“Are you kidding?” Shirish replied. “For a couple of years, there was concern I could never go back to Earth because of all the time I spent commanding zero-g warships. Now I’m walking inside instead of floating around. And I’m still not quite used to it.”

“I understand that some of the early graviton generation tech went into the Scott’s construction so at full centrifugal turn, gravity is almost Earth normal inside. Of course, this is from before we got gravity tech from the ISA.”

“Still, Captain, there’s little to rival human ingenuity. Two centuries ago we were still stuck on Earth and now we’re…”

The comms officer interrupted. “Captain, we have an incoming transmission from Earthdome.” The young officer listened to an earpiece for a moment before continuing. “It’s for General Gonzales, Priority...Ultraviolet.”

“General, my ready room is at your disposal.”

“Thank you, Captain.” The General stepped into the sparse office and stood before the screen, taking a moment to straighten and brush the wrinkles from his jacket before he spoke. “This is General Gonzales. Accept incoming message.” He did not expect to see the Seal of the President. As many times as he had met or spoken with various Presidents, he was always a little nervous. Especially with President Luchenko. Of course, that had less to do with her position and more to do with the slight crush he had on her. Yes, he was getting old, but he could still appreciate a pretty woman. And Minifred, his wife, thought it was both funny and cute that her “rival” was the President, of all people. Strangely, Shirish had always thought Luchenko’s features were a little more Polish than Russian, but he had never had the opportunity to inquire about that. Whenever he spoke to the President, there were always more important things to discuss.

Luchenko’s face came into view. “Good day, General. How are you doing?” she said with that lovely accent of hers.

“I am doing well, Madame President. And yourself? Enjoying being able to govern instead of campaigning?”

“I am doing well, and it is refreshing to do actual work. Thank you for asking.”

“How may I serve you today, Madame President?”

“I am aware that you are planning to announce your intention to retire on your return to Earth.”

Shirish was a bit surprised that she was aware but he had not kept it secret. “That is true, Ma’am. I think forty years is long enough. Besides, I promised my wife a honeymoon thirty-eight years ago and I think she’s starting to get surly about it.”

“General, I need you to perform one last mission on Earth’s behalf. You will take command of the Expulsion Fleet and drive the Vorlons and the Shadows away.”

Shirish furrowed his brow. “Madame President, with all due respect, is this a good idea? I haven’t been in direct command of assets in over a decade. Wouldn’t Ryan or Touelle or Lefcourt be better choices for this assignment?”

“The issue here is time. We have begun to receive intelligence from our forward scouts reporting both Drazi and Narn communications. If they are already there, we need to engage as soon as possible. It would take weeks to get any of the others to where you are right now. We are officially working with the ISA on this project, but it is essential that Earthforce be the ones to drive away the Shadows and Vorlons. So you are perfect for this, General.”

Shirish thought for a moment and put two and two together. She wants them gone and to be able to say that we drove them all off and if it all goes badly, I’m a good scapegoat because I’m retiring anyway. Political brinksmanship disguised as military action… “Madame President, I will carry out your orders to the best of my ability. I will require my staff and official orders to come through channels, but, that aside, we will be under way in 24 hours.”

“Very good, General. I knew I could rely on you. And remember, let nothing stand in your way. Earth must end this threat in a way that speaks to both the Ancient races and the other galactic powers.”

“Consider it done, Ma’am.”

“God’s speed and good luck to you, General. Luchenko out.”

The screen went dead. Shirish sat down in a slump and closed his eyes. Six thousand souls in my hands against God only knows what force more technologically advanced than anything I can imagine. What good can I possibly do against that? And thoughts flooded from his memory…

Carstairs said “I think you're a good officer. If you weren't, I wouldn't have requested you.”
Doctor Marengo said “If you can survive this, you can survive anything.”
Bobby said “You should be leading this mission.”
President Luchenko said “I knew I could rely on you.”
And Minnie held his cheek. “You’ll always come back to me.”

The General burst from the office onto the bridge. “Captain Nagumo, have a shuttle prepped ASAP and inform General Sullivan that I am coming over.”

Nagumo began giving supplemental orders as The General looked back to the Winfield Scott. “He’ll want to know why, sir.”

Shirish shot a glance of annoyance to Nagumo and then put his gaze back on the Scott. “Tell him I have one more victory to win.”

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Past Looms, The Future Beckons

General Shirish Gonzalez read from a datapad as he was being shuttled over. Often, he would rest easy and enjoy these little shuttle trips. He so rarely got out into space any more, which was ironic because that is how he made his name in Earthforce. For him, the ships were no longer engines of destruction. They weren’t even pieces on a board anymore. The General saw them in a different light these days. They were instruments of political will. They were the loudspeakers of Earth and the good fence that made for good neighbors. And when Earth’s fence was tested, those ships danced a dark tango in the Court of Mars. Shirish cracked a smile. He was glad that wasn’t a bartender. If I mixed drinks, he thought, like I mix metaphors, I would surely have trouble making a living. He felt the light shudder of the dock clamps and knew the Minotaur had been reached. He stowed the datapad in a pocket and began to stand in anticipation of final procedures and debarking.

The shuttle doors opened to the sound of a boatswain’s whistle’s high, rising and descending pitch. “General on deck!” The honor guard snapped to attention, five on each side. The dress uniformed Command staff stood to attention as the Captain stepped forward and offered a salute. “Welcome aboard, General!” Shirish returned the salute, suppressing a sigh and the urge to roll his eyes. Ceremony was essential to discipline and morale, therefore stay galley had to be endured, but that didn’t mean he had to like it. His mind stepped back and let scripted responses take over. He noted the names -Captain Nagumo, Commander Gonzales, Doctor Eames, Chief Carroll – and made the appropriate responses. Ceremony was served and niceties were exchanged as they had been a thousand times before. When the Captain offered a tour, Shirish’s mind returned to the fore now that thought was required.

“I would be happy to inspect the Minotaur, but I have to contact Earthdome. Would it be an inconvenience to delay the tour?”

“Of course, sir. At your earliest convenience, General.”

“Thank you, Captain.” The Earthdome contact line worked every time. “Can you spare your XO to show me to my quarters?”

“Yes, sir. You have the liberty of the ship. If there is anything you need, please do not hesitate let me know.”

“Thank you, Captain.” Shirish gave an order to the shuttle pilot and turned to the Commander. “After you, Commander Gon-za-les.”

The XO led Shirish through dimly lit hallways. “Why do you let them butcher our name like that, Bobby?” Shirish asked.

“Because, sir, it’s easier. I say it properly and everyone thinks I’m your son.”

Shirish chuckled. “There’s a reason for that, son.”

Robert Gonzales turned to his father. “You should be leading this mission.”

“I am old. Exploration like this is a young man’s game. Besides, I haven’t commanded an expeditionary force in over a decade.”

“There’s nobody more experienced in extended campaigns like this than you are.”

“Nonsense. Thirty-five years ago, I was good in battle. Fifteen years ago, I was a master of logistics. Today, I’m the undisputed expert on the art of testifying before subcommittees. I’m not the man for this.“

The two officers and porter reached a stateroom and entered. The porter left bags where instructed and scurried out before Robert continued. “And you think Sullivan is?”

From another junior officer, Shirish might have mentioned the insubordinate tone of that comment. But he and Robert had wrangled over so many subjects over the years, yet Robert still did his duty. He could give his son latitude. “Is this a question of his ability or his role in the civil war?”

Son looked father in the eye. “You know what he did.”

The father returned the look. “He followed the orders of his chain of command. If I were as judgmental as you, I might take you to task for siding with Sheridan.”

“Sheridan did what nobody else on Earth was willing to do!”

“Even if that’s true, it is not the role of the military to rebel. Clark was the constitutionally legal President…”

“Assassinating Santiago and subverting the Constitution is legal now?”

Shirish began to speak then held back his words for a moment before speaking again. “Bobby, I endure the Athenian wrestling match of politics all the time. Can I get away from it for a little while with my son?”

Robert relented. “Sorry, dad.”

“Thank you. And, just between us, Sullivan was chosen because of the black project work he was over back then. I know you’ve all been briefed on the mission parameters. Vorlons and Shadows? Sullivan has more experience with Shadow technology than anyone outside of the eggheads following along. And nobody knows anything about Vorlons. So right now he’s the best man for the job.”

“That’s a nice, rational piece of cold logic.”

“More like a rationalization, but it’s not wrong. And that’s neither here nor there. I’m just here to see my boy and get a ride to the Scott’s shakedown and maybe, if I’m lucky, see the Charybdis again..”

Robert sat in a chair. “That must be really exciting for you. I know how hard you pushed to get the Scott named.”

Shirish looked out a porthole into the vastness of the stars beyond. “Sometimes I think back to the first time I floated down the Charybdis’ halls and wonder if that wasn’t the happiest time of my life. Of course, we were young then and didn’t know as much as we do now about what’s out there. And she wasn’t the equal of the Omega by any means, but back then…” His voice trailed off into memory.

Robert smiled. “I know, Dad. I read the book.”

Shirish shot a quick grin back. “So you’re one of the ten people who bought it!”

“You know, I once had a professor at the Academy ask if he could meet you. He said he wanted to talk to you about that first meeting on the Scott with Carstairs and Cargano and Kallis.”

Shirish began to drown in memory. “I’m sure he did. There’s not an officer or academic who wouldn’t have wanted to be a fly on that bulkhead.” So many old friends gone. If it wasn’t the Dilgar, it was the Minbari. And those who survived, so many were lost in the Civil War. “It’s a terrible thing to grow old in our profession.” Shirish pulled out the datapad and turned back to Robert. “That’s why this is a young man’s game. You have duties to attend to. Give this to the Captain. He’s going to show it to you anyway so you can look at it, too.”

Robert stood and took the pad. “I’ll come see you again when I get off duty. Dinner tonight?”

“That sounds fine. See you then, Bobby.”

“See you then, Dad.” Robert walked out, closing the door behind him and stared at the datapad. Curiosity got the better of him. He touched a button and the screen sprang to life…

Resource Allocation, Expulsion Fleet:

EAS Winfield Scott - Omega Command Destroyer
EAS Ajax - Omega Destroyer
EAS Minotaur - Omega Destroyer
EAS Red Cliffs - Omega Pulse Destroyer
EAS Fairfax - Hyperion Cruiser
EAS Portsmouth - Hyperion Cruiser
EAS Wurzburg - Hyperion Cruiser
EAS Charybdis - Nova Dreadnought
EAS Viraat - Avenger Heavy Carrier
EAS Marco Polo- Explorer Survey Ship
EAS Murmansk - Hyperion Assault Cruiser
EAS Falcon - Oracle Scout Cruiser
EAS Miller - Oracle Scout Cruiser
EAS Panther - Oracle Scout Cruiser
EAS Tolliver - Oracle Scout Cruiser
EAS John Layton – Hermes Transport
EAS Barnardo O'Higgins – Hermes Transport

Alpha Wing –ThunderBolt Fury Wing
Beta Wing – ThunderBolt Fury Wing
Delta Wing –Badger Fury Wing
Zeta Wing – Badger Fury Wing

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Drazi Arrive

In an obscure system hundreds of light years from the rim of known space an ancient jump gate comes to life.

Though it has been dormant for over a thousand years it obediently responds to an incoming signal. Deep within the gate, engines harness vast reserves of energy and release them - punching a hole in the fabric of reality. Through this conduit a tiny ship slowly emerges.

The craft looks much like an insect; sharp nose, wide wings, bulbous abdomen. But its abdomen glows like a minature sun propelling the ship on a trail of bright plasma. The slender vessel makes an ever widening circle, spiraling away from the angry wound held open by the gate. It finally comes to a stop and extends electormagnetic tendrils through nearby space. Sensing no immediate danger the ship sends a signal into the gate.

Moments later a score of very similar craft pour through the gate in ragged formation. Most of them look nearly identical to the original craft except in minor aspects of detail or size. Even the largest of the craft still looks like a larger member of the same species. Their makers found a form that worked and felt no need to change.

Many of the ships vent small white jets of gas in several places, bleeding atmosphere through ruptured hulls and broken pipes. A few are even missing a wing. The entire formation appears as if it barely survived a high speed race through a class-10 asteoid field.

The gate shuts down once again, patiently waiting for the next signal to activate whether it be days or millenia.

On board the largest of the new visitors to this obscure system, one beleagured creature tries to bring order back to the chaos that surrounds him. This takes a great deal of effort and will, for the Drazi are very much creatures of chaos.

"Tell the esteemed Captain that he can either assist Fencer in patching its coolant tank or he can turn around and try and find his way home!" The command staff tried to hide their grins as they worked busily around the Admiral. Captain Shaar had been dragging his feet ever since he was passed over for command of this expidition. He was overdue for one of the Admiral's famous 'private talks' which frequently resulted in a visit to sick bay. Such was tradition in the Drazi navy.

Admiral Jok barked orders rapid fire with the tone of one at ease with command, "Set up a perimiter and deploy damage control crews. First priority to the advanced cruisers." Reading over the damage reports, Jok sighed, "We're in no shape to fight."

The journey through hyperspace to reach this gate had been harrowing. Many ships and many good soldiers did not make it this far. Such a waste to die on the journey rather than in a standup fight.

Time to see what we have to work with. "Sensors, report!"

A stream of data poured in from the scouts that had raced ahead and begun to survey the system.

Admiral Jok considered the strategic map dominating the center of the Command & Control room in the heart of his flagship, Fist of Beaurocracy. Drazi forces would quickly spread throughout the system, claiming anything that would be of materiel use in this campaign. Sadly, it was precious little.

They were in a small system on the very edge of this "pocket galaxy" the First Ones had built for themselves. Eyehawk scouts were reporting two viable jump routes from this system to unknown gates deeper within the sector. The entire isolated region consisted of several systems connected by a local jump network. What the other systems contained would remain unknown until scouts could be dispatched.

As yet no resistance had been encountered.

The supply situation was far from ideal. Even though they now had posession of a jump gate, its beacon was sporadic and difficult to follow from the outside. Freighters could only arrive when the 'weather' in hyperspace allowed safe passage of freighters. Reinforcements and replacements would no doubt be as difficult to acquire.

Somewhere out there, if the ISA probes were to be believed, were the First Ones and their servants. Why they chose to establish a base here at the rim, he didn't know. It had been blind luck that had allowed his fleet to survive the gauntlet of hyperspace anomalies and grvity wells that guarded this pocket of space. Whatever the Vorlons and Shadows were up to in this region, they were determined to do so in privacy.

"Too bad for them.", he mused aloud, "This isn't their house any more."

His adjutant handed him a cup of hot jala and regarded him with a curious expression. "Sir?"

"These old ones. They stay far past their welcome. It is our job to remind them of that." Jok regarded the young leutenant, Shellia. She had managed to defeat three other officers in personal combat to win her position as his aide. She was still sporting an angry scar on her forehead plate which served as a warning to any prospective challengers. Very promising. He looked forward to fighting her when the next rank assessment was due.

"Admiral, your orders have arrived via purple channel."

Jok nodded to the leutenant and went to his quarters to read the orders. As usual for the Drazi navy, they were short and to the point:

The orders were clear enough. He was to capture the First One outpost at the center of the cluster and, as important, prevent all other galactic forces from doing the same. Jok wondered at the politics behind such an agressive stance. But for now such questions weren't his concern. He was a soldier. It would be many years before his fists would be bloodied in the political arena. Perhaps sooner, he mused, if this mission was a success.

He read the rest of the briefing and what little useful information it contained. Acording to Drazi intelligence there were two other forces who survived the harrowing journey through hyperspace and established beachheads in the sector.

The first fleet was the...Narn? Jok found it suprising that they had managed to navigate the hyperspace gauntlet successfully. The Narn were still new to space travel and were not known for their grasp of the higher sciences. Still, they were tough opponents in battle. Particularly, their fondness for energy mines was a problem for the fragile hulls of Drazi warships. The Drazi depended on speed and agility to avoid enemy fire. But one cannot outrun or dodge a fusion explosion. On the plus side, the legendary toughness of Narn hulls was of little concern to a well-aimed solar cannon. And their ships were so sluggish that you knew where they would be a week in advance. Easy enough to set up killing zones.

The other fleet that arrived was the Earth Alliance. These humans were a conundrum. One one hand the alliance was a founding member of the ISA. John Sheridan, the president, was a human. On the other hand Earthforce had seemingly sided with the Shadows in the great war. It was said that they still used shadow technology in their warships. Humans, too, were new to space. But they took to intergalactic warfare with a natural skill and relish that made them seem almost Drazi. Their ships were almost as tough and sluggish as the Narn, but they compensated with great variety and flexibility. And their fighters were unmatched among the younger races. One never knew exactly what would be faced when an EA fleet was in the field: sometimes a hail of laser fire from a line of the ubiquitous Omegas, sometimes an angry swarm of Starfuries organized by the massive fleet carriers humans were so fond of. Jok made it a high priority to get a roster of what ships the humans bad brought to the sector.

Jok reviewed the Drazi order of battle. His fleet had been scraped together in haste from all over the Freehold. It was an eclectic mix but still a powerful strike force.

Fireraptor Battleship: Fist of Beaurocracy (Jok's personal command)

Stormfalcon Heavy Cruiser: Shuggie
Nightfalcon Heavy Carrier: Pack Hunter

Firehawk Advanced Cruiser: Smasher, Striker, Slammer, Stabber, Slasher, Fencer

Jumphawk Command Cruiser: Alpha, Pack Leader
Solarhawk Battlecruiser: Spotlight
Darkhawk Missile Cruiser: Far Fist, Spear
Warbird Cruiser: Brawler, Scrapper
Strikehawk Battle Carrier: Marcus Cole, Atlatl

Eyehawk Scout Cruiser: Sneak, Snitch
Sleekbird Assault Cruiser: Party Crasher, Invitation
Guardhawk Battle Escort: Flyswatter
Sunhawk Battlecruiser: Tal's Fury

More would be needed to accomplish his final mission, to be sure. But it was a good start. Jok began to smile as he plotted out the first moves for his fleet. He hoped that someone would try to stop him soon. The focus brought by battle would help shake off the unease his crews still felt from their hellish journey through hyperspace. And the Drazi were always spoiling for a good fight.

Eviction Notice: Against the First Ones in 2269

Several years have passed since Coriana VI and the departure of the Shadows and Vorlons from the galaxy. Finally, the younger races are free to find their own paths without the presence of the First Ones. Or are they?

Scout ships recently found a strange zone of hyperspace just beyond the rim of known space. Hyperspace seemed to fold in on itslef here in a strange fashion forming an isolated pocket tens of light years across. Further investigation revealed that the ancient races had not quite kept their word. Within this bastion the Shadows, Vorlons, and a cadre of lesser servants continued to secretly keep tabs on the progress of the galaxy.

Seeing this as an affront - and a violation of a promise - several of the galactic powers dispatched fleets to show the first ones that they were no longer needed and (more importantly) no longer capable of enforcing their will upon the galaxy. Twelve fleets were sent, one from each major participating power. Nine were lost in the tides of the hyperspace traps guarding the entrances to this zone.

The three surviving fleets each established a foothold in an outlying system. As the Shadow homeworld was destroyed and the Vorlon homeworld impenetrable, this represented a unique opportunity to capture and study First One technology. What began as a join effort to evict the straggling First Ones out of galactic space quickly became a race for each fleet to capture technology and information...and to prevent their rivals from doing the same.

The unique, isolated pocket of space contained thirteen systems linked by a local jump gate network. Each of the three invading fleets laid claim to one of the three "entry systems" along the periphery. The rest of the systems were in various states of occupation by the Shadows, Vorlons, and their servants.


This space reserved for the conclusion of the Krish Dilgar campaign.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


William Cargano hated being summoned. It didn't matter who did the calling, whether it was a higher ranking officer or an old friend. In this case it was both. So he gently walked down the hall toward the conference room. He didn't know why James summoned him there, but he still didn't like it.

As he opened the door, he was Admiral James Carstairs seated at the end, flanked by General Piotr Hrudek and Captain Shirish Gonzalez. Cargano also hated being the last person at a meeting. "I'm here, James. What's this all about?"

Carstairs face was blank. "This is an official function. Please report properly."

Cargano looked at all three men suspiciously. In three years of serving under Carstairs, he had never had to report formally. Eying the three officers, he thought to himself that these are, not counting himself, the three most senior officers in the Krish Fleet, exactly the men needed for a board or a court martial... Cargano snapped to attention and saluted. "Captain William Cargano reporting as ordered, sir."

Carstairs returned the salute. "As you were. Have you heard the news from Omelos?"

Cargano had been on patrol so communication had been sporadic for the last two weeks. "No, I haven't. Has something happened?"

"The good news," Carstairs began, "is that Omelos has fallen. The bad news is that the Dilgar managed to kill Hamato and several senior staff in the process."

"Then I am both happy and sad. Why have I been summoned here?"

Carstairs leaned forward. "Because I am not happy with your performance, Captain."

Cargano felt his blood being to boil. "What aspects of my performance have upset you, sir?"

Carstairs leaned forward into the daggers shooting out of Cargano's eyes. "Quite frankly, Captain, I think there are...better places for you than commanding a Nova."

"Are you demoting me, James? Are you serious?"


"I beg your pardon?"

"Are you demoting me, Sir."

Cargano began to grit his teeth. "Are you demoting me, Sir?"

"I think it's time to move you somewhere else."

Cargano glared at Cartairs for a moment. "And I suppose the orders have already come through."

"They have."

"You should have come to me like a man first. Fuck you, James." Cargano snapped back to attention. "Where have I been reassigned, sir?"

Carstairs point out the window. "There."

Cargano looked out the window to see an Orestes Battleship surrounded by repair scaffolding. "Executive Officer I assume, sir?"

"What do you think, General Cargano?"

"I think that you can go to..." Cargano's face softened as he thought for a moment. "Did you say 'General'?"

Hrudek burst into laughter. Gonzalez's smile was both embarrassed and amused. Carstairs tossed a small box at Cargano. "Gotcha, Bill!"

Cargano caught the box and opened it. Inside were two stars, each one rank insignia for a Rear General. "What the hell?"

"The promotion has been in the works for a while. With all the staff losses at Omelos, it got fast-tracked. And since a General needs a good ride, you are now the commanding officer of the Louis Davout, fresh from the front."

The tension in Cargano's face disappeared. "I... I don't know what to say."

Shirish, in a quiet but deferential voice replied. "Well, you could still tell Admiral Carstairs where to go..."

Three general officers burst into laughter.

Monday, June 7, 2010


Orbit over Demeter, Dilgar Flagship Throne of Judgement

"Last of the assault fleet jumping out now.", the ELINT officer reported crisply. "Relief force reports that they are inbound, ETA one hour." It had taken a week of hard work and coordination to get the colony established below. His ships had been fighting constantly for over a month without relief and only now could he send them back to Station Prime for repair and refit. Morale was at an all time low after news of homeworld spread to the fleet.

Tor'han sighed as he observed the crew working in Throne's cavernous bridge. So young now. They are all so young.

"Acknowledged", responded Battle Leader Fen'sta. Again she looked up at the Warmaster standing at her shoulder. "Sir, are you sure you don't want to take command? This seems...irregular." She looked uncomfortable holding command of a ship with the Supreme Warmaster present, as if she were usurping his authority.

"Negative, Battle Leader. While I do plan on transferring my flag at some point, you are far more familiar with this ship's systems and operations than I." Tor'han again gazed around the bridge at the amazing display of advanced technology. The capabilities of Throne of Judgement outstripped anything he had experienced. And until he was able to master its nuances he did not intend to take over for those that did.

Fen'sta's record showed that she served as a lead engineer during design and construction and served with the ship since it left dry dock six months ago. She was a brilliant engineer and a promising tactician. Her crew followed her with an almost fanatic devotion. The original commander of Throne was killed only days into her first deployment. The young Battle Leader took command in the field and brought the ship through a harrowing gauntlet in order to reach Krish. No one was more qualified than she to sit at the conn.

Outside in the skies over Demeter the latest batch of new and experimental vessels took station around the massive battleship. These had arrived shortly after Throne of Judgement, representing the peak of Dilgar technology. Some were weathered veterans with hastily installed advanced systems. Others were new from the keel up, like Throne. All were rushed out of the shipyard to ferry their precious technology to Krish. Even now there were as many scientists as soldiers on the vessels. The Warmaster would be glad when the relief force arrived. This motley collection of ships was more a technology showcase than a proper fleet.

Other concerns weighed on his mind. His fleet had survived two massive clashes with the humans, leaving it in rough shape. Fully 80% of his ships were being refitted and repaired at Station Prime. While he didn't believe the humans would come at him again for a while, the Centauri were another matter. Fighter patrols were sweeping the system searching for the elusive Centauri fleet, but they had yet to make contact. Where were they? Surely they aren't cowering behind the station at Krish Prime. No matter. He had set things in motion to draw them out.

"Contacts inbound!" the ELINT officer excitedly barked.

Fen'sta looked over at the Warmaster expectantly. Tor'han nodded once in response. And then he watched something amazing happen. The youthful, unsure officer he was begining to know transformed before his eyes. Her posture changed, her face became a mask of professionalism though her eyes showed the feral anticipation of a hunter. She began to calmly issue orders rapid fire.

"All hands to stations. ELINT, give me numbers and types!", Fen'sta span around in her chair to face the comms officer. "Contact the fleet, tell them to form up in two pentacons, centered on command destroyers Order and Duty. Even while ELINT was sounding off the list of enemy vessels in the background she continued to issue instructions to to the fleet.

Tor'han watched the tactical displays. The Centauri were taking no chances, jumping in on the far side of a heavy debris field made up of wrecked Diglar and human warships. It looked to be a heavy raiding force, perhaps even enough to retake the space around Demeter. Their ad-hoc collection of new ships and untried crews were all that stood in the way.

A Call to Arms, 7 Points Raid


Primus, Emperor Morell
Balvarin, Turhan's Glory
Sulust, Stalwart
Maximus x2, Principio, Retiario
Kutai x4, Parry, Thrust, Slash, Lunge
Razik(4) x3

special: Due to an 'other duties' result, the Centauri was forced to leave one Maximus, the Principio, behind.

Command Pentacon
Mankhat Dreadnought, Throne of Judgment (extended range missile rack, mass drivers)
Omelos Light Cruiser, Flawless (+2 AD forward hvy. bolters)
Ochlavita Ki Command Destroyer, Order (extended range missile rack, advanced sensors)
Jashikar Tae, Hazard

Support Pentacon
Ochlavita Ki Command Destroyer, Duty (Jump Engine)
Jashakar Vi Scout, Assassin
Jashakar Vi Scout, Whisker
Jashakar Tae, Peril

In my last few encounters with the Centauri, they had begun bringing large numbers of razik fighters to the field. This largely neutralized my own fighter threat, forcing me to rethink my composition. Intelligence reported that the Centauri had just purchased a Balvarin carrier. I suspected it would be in this battle. Rather than try to win an uphill fighter duel, I decided to bring no fighter force and leave his fighters with little to do.

The board had asteroid fields (density 6) and a dust cloud in one corner. The rest of the board was clear.

Initiative Centauri

Placing my ships first, I decided to give the Centauri the corner of terrain. This would encourage him to try and hide in the terrain, allowing me to dictate the range of the engagement. Knowing my opponent's conservative nature, it was a good bet. I placed both pentacons in the corner opposite the terrain.

The Centauri didn't disappoint. This turn he had won his other battle, successfully defending the planet Garden from attack. Thus the stakes in this battle weren't as high in his estimation. He set up nearly all of his ships behind the asteroid field. The Primus and Balvarin were even pointed to the far edge of the board, in case they needed to beat a hasty retreat. His Sulust Stalwart (the one long-range weapon in his inventory), was set up in the asteroid field along with one Kutai, Parry. They had high enough crew quality that there was no chance of damage. It seemed he wished to castle up behind some stealth and see what I would do. All his fighters were placed in the asteroid belt, looking like a cloud of angry wasps.

There was a great deal of distance between our two fleets. This suited me fine as I wanted to try some long range missile tactics.


Turn 1
Initiative Centauri

Our extreme range left me little to do but advance forward with both pentacons, keeping my ships together for mutual support.


The Centauri moved his Primus and Balvarin behind the dust cloud in the corner. He had to give an APTE order to the slow carrier so it could make the distance. This meant it was not launching more fighters this turn. All other ships gave an All Stop order. He seemed to like his current position.


The swarm of fighters moved forward to be just outside 15" (bolter range) of my fleet. This gave me the option of ignoring them or using my slow-firing missiles against them. I chose to ignore them, so there was no shooting this turn.

Turn 2
Initiative Centauri

I call an All Stop with both pentacons. My reasoning is that I am far outside range of his Sulust and if he does nothing on this turn I will start using missiles on his fighters. Most of them are raziks with a single weak weapon, but they are a lot of them. If the Centauri stays in his "fort", then I should be able to take some shots without risk.

The Centauri responds by moving his three kutai near the Sulust out and toward my fleet. The two that were behind the asteroid field swing around and angle in toward me, the one in the asteroid field is able to just move straight out. All kutai issue CBD orders. The Primus lumbers behind the dust cloud, slowly turning toward my fleet. The Carrier issues a Scramble order and unloads the remainder of its fighters.

Here we see the treacherous Centauri hiding behind a dust cloud.
And here we see the brave Parry moving out to face the Dilgar fleet.

The pile of fighters elects not to move. They won't give me free bolter shots.

As I'm considering my fire options, I notice that the closest kutai, Parry, is just within missile range of Throne. I'm itching to try out my new ship so I decide to fire, unloading 20 AD of tripple damage missiles into the little boat. It explodes spectacularly. First blood to the Dilgar! The missiles on my other ships are only in range of the fighters and I don't want to waste all my slow loading fire.

Turn 3
Initiative Centauri

My pentacons again both call All Stop, hoping to stay out of range while Throne reloads its missile racks. I make a mistake by keeping the dreadnought out front.


The Sulust Stalwart races out of the asteroids and places itself 24" away from my flagship, inside range of its beam but outside the 24" range of the missiles from my other ships. He also moves his other two Kutai, Thrust and Slash, forward toward my fleet.


His Primus swings about to take position inside the dust cloud. The balvarin holds position, facing the edge of the board and ready to run at any moment.

His fighters continue to hover outside botler range.

Stalwart gets an unanswered battle laser shot at my flagship, scoring 6 hits with its 4 AD beam. The damage roll scores three criticals. I'm stunned as the three criticals rolled are a 5/6 (Hull Breach), 6/3 (Engineering), and a 6/6 (Catastrophic Explosion)! The Throne of Judgement reels as it takes 25 damage, 20 crew, looses all traits, can issue no special actions, and has no damage control for the rest of the game. Ouch!

I again decide to not fire missiles at the cloud of fighters hovering in the distance.

Turn 4
Initiative Dilgar

This was my first turn to finally win initiative, but it couldn't have come at a better time. My pentacons moved slowly forward since the dreadnought couldn't issue an all stop. I had the Jashakar Tae Hazard move in front of Throne and issue the order "Maneuver to Shield Them!" - kicking myself for not doing the same last turn as is my normal tactic.

The Sulust gave a CBD order, expecting a great deal of return fire this turn. Thrust and Slash moved further forward, one within gun range of the Throne, the other just short of the dreadnought but able to fire on Hazard.

The Centauri fleet core is slowly coming about to engage from the dust cloud.


His fighters then moved forward. Four sentri fighters took escort around the Sulust, raising its interceptor rating to 6. The rest of the fighters moved forward to fire on the one ship that was close enough to attack, my sacrificial Hazard (life is very hard on frigates under my command).

Scouts light up the Stalwart, broadcasting my intentions quite clearly.

Three flights of razik attack Hazard, scoring minor damage.

Then it's my turn to fire, and the command pentacon unleashes hell. Thirty eight dice of missiles converge on Stalwart. To it's credit the ship stops a great deal of the damage with its fighter escort and the CBD order. But in the end there are simply too many dice. Starwart explodes and takes out the escorting fighters, doing minor damage to Slash. Throne fires its guns on Slash and damages it heavily, though dodge and CBD keep it from suffering fatal wounds. All other bolters fire at fighters and manage to kill 3 flights.

Thrust fires on my flagship and scores a few points of damage.

My support pentacon fires missiles on Slash, reducing it to a skeleton crew. Their bolters fire on fighters to no effect.

Slash fires on Hazard and decrews the frigate, leaving it adrift.

This turn worked much better for me. Throne is hurt badly, but its maneuvering and weapons still function. In return I have destroyed the only long range weapon in the Centauri fleet.

Turn 5
Initiative Dilgar

My pentacons begin to angle toward the far corner, hoping to position themselves to attack the remaining Centauri fleet. There is some risk, though, as Throne is gravely wounded. A good volley from the Primus could send it over the edge.

Slash and Thrust move forward, getting very close to Throne in hopes of using all guns or, at least, harming the ship in their explosion.

The Primus initiates a Jump Point. It wants to be ready to leave on a moment's notice if things continue south. The maximus is right there with it. The last Kutai takes station at the edge of the dust cloud.


A cloud of fighters piles around Throne, hoping to inflict damage through sheer weight of numbers.

My scouts light up Thrust and Slash.

The fighters fire, doing a bit of damage to Throne. The massive ship is now at about 38 damage, 10 from being crippled. I can see my opponent trying to do the numbers in his head as he eyes his Primus.

Throne fires all guns in a spectacular light show, attempting to kill some of the fighters that plague it. Three are flights killed. It also fires a surgically calculated number of weapons at Slash and Thrust, managing to destroy them both without an immediate explosion.

The rest of my fleet fires all bearing guns at fighters, killing 2 more all told.

The moment of decision is upon the Centauri. Stay or leave?

Turn 6
Initiative Centauri

My opponent didn't see any lucky criticals in the previous turn as he had hoped. So he decided to excercise caution and leave the planet. If this had been a one-off game I'm sure he would have charged in. But the Centauri are in dire economic straights right now and could not easily replace a lost Primus.

The Maximus first races through the jump point. The last Kutai (is that a movie title?), Lunge, can't make the jump point so it turns toward the edge of the board. It ends the turn a mere 2" from the table edge. The Bavarian lumbers off the edge of the board easily.

I continue to bear down on the far corner. I manage to get my scouts within scouting range of Lunge and I get Throne just barely within the 42" range of its single extended range missile rack. All my ships with anti-fighter traits huddle in close around Throne.

Centauri fighters also heed the call to retreat and run for the edge of the board. I breathe a sigh of relief.

Scouts paint Lunge.

Throne makes a 'Hail Mary' shot with 5 AD of missile at range 40". After dodge and CBD I do exactly 10 points of damage, destroying Lunge just before it can escape.

Sulust, Stalwart (10 pts)
Kutai, Parry (3 pts)
Kutai, Thrust (3 pts)
Kutai, Slash (3 pts)
Kutai, Lunge (3 pts)
1 razik flight (3 pts)

Primus, Emperor Morell (5 pts)
Balvarin, Turhan's Glory (2.5 pts)
Maximus, Retiario (1.25 pts)
Sentri (.75 pts)
Razik x2 (1.5 pts)

Jashakar Tae, Hazard (3 pts)

Dilgar victory (37 points to 3)

Playing within the scope of a campaign can greatly change how a battle plays out. This is one of the things I love about campaign play. My opponent had won a previous battle in this campaign turn, and so was not in a position where victory was necessary to stay in the game. Furthermore, he was loathe to risk any expensive assets because his income is currently low. This made him play very conservatively and I was able to benefit from this.

This battle wasn't "make or break" for me, either. But I had declared Demeter the new Dilgar homeworld and decided to defend it zealously, no matter the cost. So I was willing to risk big in order to keep it. It also helped that I am flush with resources in this campaign.

Had the Cenaturi kept all his fleet together they could have easily destroyed the Throne of Judgement after it took so much critical damage on turn 3. It would then have been a simple matter to finish off the remainder of my fleet, as 75% of my firepower on the table was in that one ship. But he couldn't have known he would get so lucky. Instead he decided to hold back his most expensive units and see if he could inflict enough damage with his other ships to make easy prey for them to finish off.

The net effect of this was that I got to fight half his fleet with my whole fleet. Even then it was a close, exciting fight. Damn those high-quality Centauri ships.

The strength of the pentacon played a big part in this battle. It is likely a second shot from the Sulust would have crippled Throne. I absolutely had to kill it before it got the chance. Having the firepower of 4 ships all at once was the only way I made this happen. The loss of init sinks was a small price since the Centauri were holding defensive positions.

The planet Demeter (New Omelos) remained in Dilgar hands long enough for a relief fleet to arrive. The Throne of Judgement and its companions, bathed in glory, returned to base for repairs and a much deserved rest.


Supreme Warmaster Tor'han looked up from his console. He had taken over ELINT when the officer manning the station had been killed by shrapnel from a secondary explosion. It had been a long time since he served anywhere other than the captain's chair. There was a kind of purity in it. No tactics or mind games. Just efficiency and duty.

He spun around to see the Throne's true commander. Fen'sta had been flawless and the Centauri were in full retreat. In particular, she had a clear grasp on missile systems and linked targeting. Never had Tor'han seen such accurate and effective 'time on target' coordination.

As the ventalators were finally clearing the smoke from the bridge the two locked eyes, the old campaigner and the brilliant young warrior. His decision was made in that moment.

He stood up and walked toward the bridge exit. At the door he stopped and turned around. "I'm a creature of habbit, captain. I've grown comfortable in my quarters on Incorruptable and, frankly, can't be bothered to uproot my whole command structure every time a new ship is built."

Fen'sta turned to regard him, a confused look on her face. "Sir?"

"I'm going to leave Throne in your hands. I can think of none more capable, Battlemaster Fen'sta."

He left the bridge before she could respond. The cheers of the crew could be heard even through the close bulkhead behind him. For the first time since news of the homeworld, Tor'han smiled.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

What Price?

Deep space near the planet Garden...

"No, no, no! This is unacceptable!" Dar'Shal held his chronometer up, brandishing it like a weapon. "Your times are ninety seconds below standard!" The flight crew looked exhausted as they gathered in the ready room for his assessment of their ninth drill today. This was unusual work for a Battlemaster, especially one who was captain of his own vessel. But Dar'Shal had been asked to assist in training up crews in the fleet. Casualties had created massive shortages in manpower. Shortages that were being filled in by civilian recruits. Spite was the worst of the bunch with 80% of her crew being new replacements. If he could bring this crew up to military standard then thre was hope the fleet could sustain itself. He started his career as a flight deck officer so this was where he felt he could make a real difference.

The battle at Demeter had given the crew some experience under pressure. But a review of their performance in that battle proved alarming. Every order to scramble fighters at battle speed had failed to execute. It was a miracle that there hadn't been a crippling accident. Reading the ships personnel records he noted that Fleet Command's assesment of this crew had been upgraded from "disaster" to "potential disaster."

Now Spite was on a mission of its own and there was no large fleet to hide behind. Their only companion was the scout frigate Rogue providing ELINT and, more importantly, battle experience. The crew of Rogue were hardened veterans. While Spite was officially lead ship of the squadron, they would be following Rogue's lead. A large detachment of fighters was also along to provide additional space superiority. With the fleet in its current battered state attrition units were the order of the day.

There was no more time for drills today. The mission was about to begin. "Okay crew, today we are doing a reconnasance in force. We will try to establish a zone of control in the primary shipping lane to Garden. This means our fighters will be performing sorties with a Yellow Talon rotation schedule. One flight on CAP and one flight on Ready. We will be providing fuel and maintainence for two independent wings so keep bays 8 through 12 free and ready for stragglers. Straightforward enough. Any questions?"

Dar'Shal was dismayed to see over half the flight crew raise their hands. This was going to a long day.

As if to punctuate his thoughts the ship's klaxon announced the transition to battle status, bathing the crew in crimson light, and a voice over the intercom intoned, "Enemy contact. All hands to combat stations."

The crew stood in the room, looking confused and lost. "Move it, people! Team Blue get to ordinance. Team Red...fuel. Go!" This seemed to shake everyone into action and the crew filed out looking almost like professionals. I only hope we don't face anything too daunting. It would embarras War Leader Jo'Tok greatly to have her second crushed by an errant fuel canister.

And with that last positive thought the Battlemaster ran to take his station.


Battle Report

The campaign pushes on in the remote system of Krish. Remnants of the Dilgar Imperium are trying to establish a new homeworld in the wake of the capture of Omelos. Today they are attempting to capture the lush world of Garden. This is one of the two remaining locations held by the Centauri and they are determined to defend it.

Space Superiority, 4 pts. Skirmish

This will be a tiny battle, especially given the mission - to capture as much territory as possible.



Vorchan (Slicer)
Maximus (Triario)
Kutai x2 (Parry, Riposte)
Razik x4
Sentri x4


Garasoch, Spite (5 Dartfighters, 5 Torpedofighters)
Jashakar Vi, Rogue
Dartfighters x4
Torpedofighters x8

My plan here was to fight a battle of attrition. I would send in my fighters, aided by the scout and attempt to inflict enough early damage that I could then simply retreat off the board and win on points. The scout had a crew quality of 5. This enabled it to help the poor carrier (CQ 3) perform its Scramble order. It also meant that a successful Redirect scout action only needed a roll of 3. By my calculations, I only needed to kill a skirmish ship and the two kutai and victory would be mine. If things got too dicy, I would just spin round the planet and leave the board.

Initiative Dilgar

The map had a single moon on it in one corner which would be the center of the fighting. There were several asteroid clusters, but they would play no part in this battle.

The Centauri fleet set up as a cohesive group facing the moon. The Vorchan and Maximus were the center of the line, with the Kutais on the flanks and the fighters serving as escorts (unpainted fighters are Razik, painted fighters are Setnri).

The Dilgar fleet is simply a carrier and a scout in a small squadron. They set up in orbit of the moon, hoping the gravity well will give them extra options as well as some cover from the large array of Centauri guns. The scout hides behind the moon while the carrier has its guns facing the enemy.

I knew this would be a tough battle as soon as I saw the enemy fleet. It had both fighters (including the excellent Razik) and a Maximus providing anti-fighter and interceptors in support.

Turn 1
Initiative Centauri

The Dilgar fleet calls an All Stop order with Spite also giving a Scramble order.
The Centauri fleet cautiously moves forward, measuring carefully to avoid any possible attack from the torpedofighters. All centauri fighters move to escort their ships.

Dilgar fighters move up in a wave in front of the Centauri outside of the range of their guns - or so I thought. It turns out that two of these vessels had refits with extended range weapons. I loose 2 dartfighters to bad dodge rolls.

In the end phase, all remaining fighters scramble from Spite.

Turn 2
Initiative Centauri

The Dilgar fleet again holds position as Spite wants to keep its guns facing the enemy. It orders Close Blast Doors, just in case. Rogue remains behind the moon, holding position and getting ready to leand redirect for the fighters.

The Centauri roll up in a line, with all ships except the Triario giving a Close Blast Doors order. The slow Maximus must give an APTE order to keep up.

Having lost initiative, I am forced to move my fighters first. I realize that I can't out dogfight his raziks with my dartfighters. I also realize that his escorting fighters can fly out to attack my torpedofighters if they open fire on his ships. I decide to try and do some serious damage to both his big ships. I move a single torpedofighter in to dogfight each of the 4 raziks on escort duty (2 on each enemy ship). Then I send my dartfighters on suicide runs against the vorchan and maximus. Finally, I move the remaining torpedofighters to fire on the Vorchan from maximum range.

The suicide fighters are met by anti-fighter fire from Triario. Most get through and do moderate damage to the Maximus (no criticals) and moderate damage to the Vorchan (-1 AD crit).

My scout fails to redirect fire on Slicer.

Torpedofighters then unload onto the vorchan, doing light damage but scoring a single critical. The crit rolls up as a Reactor Implosion (6,5) doing heavy damage and killing all crew aboard.
One of my torpedofighters manages to win its dogfight, the others are lost. Two are recovered by the carrier.

Triario and the two Kutai fire on Spite. They all manage to only score only 2 hits, but one of these hits scores an Engines Disabled (2,6) critical and sets Spite adrift.

Turn 3
Initiative Centauri

The scout Rogue leaves the squadron, attempting to init sink at least one enemy ship. This will prove to be a mistake, though it does manage to line up its guns on a kutai, Riposte. Spite gives an All Hands on Deck order and drifts in orbit around the moon.

The Centauri manuver to attack the scout, giving Concentrate Firepower orders with all ships except Riposte, which gives a CBD order.

Centauri fighters continue to stick to their ships in escort. I am again forced to sacrifice several torpedo fighters in dogfights to enable the others to attack the kutai unmolested.

My scout again failed to lend redirect for the fighters. Their fire is only moderately effective between the dodge rolls, and the CBD rolls of Riposte.

Centauri fire destroys Rogue. Spite is only able to fire a port volley at a kutai, which is lent interceptors by Triario. This and the dodge rating keep any real damage from hitting home.
In the end phae, Spite rolls a "1" trying to fix the Adrift critical. This failure leaves her unable to attempt an escape.

Turn 4
Initiative Centauri

Time is running out for the Dilgar to inflict sufficient damage. Continually losing initiative is also taking a toll on fighters.

Spite, drifting listlessly toward the edge of the board, issues a Scramble! order. She has a lot of hit points and needs more fighters in space to inflict harm upon the enemy.

The centauri ships all move up behind Spite, where she has no guns bearing. All ships give Concentrate Firepower! orders except the damaged Riposte which gives CBD.

Centauri fighters move first and engage many torpedofighters in dogfights. The remaining torpedofighters line up shots against Riposte.

Anti-fighter fire and dogfighting chews away the bulk of remaining Dilgar fighter forces. Dodge, CBD, and interceptors lent from Triario make the torpedofighters ineffective.

The Centauri open fire and do severe damage to Spite. She isn't crippled, but yet another Adrift! critical is scored. There is now no hope for the wounded carrier.

End of turn, Spite fails to repair a critical and launches her last 2 fighters.

Turn 5
Initiative Centauri

Spite drifts further, now simply hoping for blind luck to allow her time to drift off the board.
The Centauri all stay in her aft arc. Triario gives Intensify Defensive Firepower order.

Centauri fighters race out to engage the new fighters and most of the remaining fighters. The hail of anti-fighter fire lent by Triario destroys them all.

Fire from the Centauri fleet finishes off poor Spite, reducing her to exactly zero damage. She goes dead in space and becomes a prize for the Centauri fleet.

Centauri losses:
Vorchan (Slicer), Decrewed
some fighters

Dilgar losses:
Garasoch (Spite), Destroyed
Jashakar Vi (Rogue), Destroyed
some fighters

Centauri victory, 25 pts to 10 pts

Things really turned south for me when my carrier was set adrift with a lucky critical. Combined with the failed attempt to repair it and the second adrift critical - the carrier was doomed. I also failed all scouting rolls with a CQ:5 scout. This drastically reduced the effectiveness of my torpedofighters.

My opponent also brought just the right force to counter me, Raziks and a Maximus. This forced me to loose too many fighters in my "tie up" dogfights when trying to enable my attack craft a clear shot. The most effective weapon I had in this battle was my dartfighters making suicide runs on the enemy. But I only had so many fighters to expend.

I think I had the right idea, using attrition units and running away with the carrier. But since the carrier couldn't escape and the fighters were largely neutralized by good enemy fleet selection and bad scouting - I was doomed.

The Centauri excel at skirmish level, with the Maximus in the role of MVP. This tough ship is a force multiplier that can reduce waves of enemy fighters to so much scrap when supported by fighters of its own.

Splitting the scout off from my squadron was also a bad move. With the CQ 5 of the scout, my carrier would have been much more likely to repair its Adrift critical and escape.

A ship with a Dodge score and on Close Blast Doors order is extremely difficult to damage. Kutai are amazing patrol level ships.

The Centauri keep possession of the planet and gain valuable XP dice to spend on missions and upgrades. In addition, since the carrier was set adrift and didn't explode they captured BattleMaster Dar'Shal - one of my named characters in the fiction for the campaign. What fate awaits Dar'Shal? I can only hope for an eventual prisoner exchage. But I fear he is already in the hands of Centauri telepaths.


Station Prime, Observation Deck

Jo'Tok read the report a second time, but the words hadn't changed. Spite was lost. And with her, a close friend and one of the more promising officers in the fleet. And perhaps there had been the potential for something more once the war was over.

With effort she brushed these thoughts aside. There would be time to mourn later. For now there was still a war to prosecute.

This was the third carrier task force lost in Krish. It seemd that they glory days of the Thorun fighter were finally over. The tiny craft had swept the Dilgar to victory over the last three years, but that was against the League. Now that they were facing two major and highly professional navies it seemed the shock value of fighter groups had been greatly diminished.

The battleforce was just ariving from Demeter after their clash with the humans. Heavy damage was apparent on many of the ships and again there were several missing frigates. The War Leader sighed. Even victory has a heavy price.