Tales of the New Terran Protectorate

Tactics & After Action Reports

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Re: Tales of the New Terran Protectorate

Post by Pavane » Sat Oct 26, 2013 3:53 pm

Thanks for sharing this. It is a very enjoyable read.
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Re: Tales of the New Terran Protectorate

Post by duckbird » Tue Oct 29, 2013 4:34 am

Jan 3rd, NTP Year 44
Port Airlock of Protectorate One
Low Orbit of Planet Isara, Iszm System

Admiral Cassandra Snow fidgeted with the bottom hem of her jacket, the lightly frayed gold stitching highlighting the faded red of her uniform. She hadn't worn the damned thing in about twenty years, and it just didn't fit quite right anymore. She was an old woman now, in her early seventies, and no longer the young and reckless hero of New Terra. Her chest was heavily decorated with insignias and medals from her career, but she wasn't quire sure if they were all right where they were supposed to be. Until a few nights ago they'd been in a display case in the master bedroom of her manor on the home world. She'd had to smash the glass on one because she couldn't find the key to open it.

“Relax admiral,” came a cheerful male voice beside her, “you look great.”

Cassandra threw the marine to her right a sarcastic but friendly glare.

“Just like in the old recruitment vids,” the marine continued, grinning at her.

“Oh please, sergeant.” she replied, “I look like a museum curator.”

“Well then if you're up for it, ma'am, give me a tour of the Protector's ship when we're done? I've always wanted to see where the big man sleeps.”

The admiral let out a chuckle, and playfully smacked the marine on the shoulder. It was a symbolic gesture, given the suit of powered armor he was wearing, but he recoiled in jest all the same.

She liked her young bodyguard already. His name was Tom, and he had almost instantly reminded her of her first son. Tall, broad shoulders, dark eyes, and the same close cropped haircut every man in uniform seemed to sport these days. He stood just shy of a foot over her 5'5”, and a few inches more in armor. He had the boundless energy of youth and the carefree mentality sorely lacking in many of his peers too set on promotions and glory.

The mechanisms behind the door started whirling, and Cassandra again made sure her white hair was perfectly pulled back behind a headband in what would casually pass for NTP regulation. She wasn't about to chop most of her hair off again unless she absolutely needed to.

“A woman my age has no business in space,” she continued. “I just about soiled myself on that last subspace jump.”

Tom grinned at her again, and the marine to her left stifled a snicker.

“Relax Em, you're just escorting me. I'm not your commanding officer.”

The other marine, Emily, had been strictly business since the assignment began. Cassandra often grew tired of it. She knew she carried a lot of fame and merit, and young officers tended to treat her with a veneration that quickly became almost tedious.

Emily looked like she was about to respond when a quick burst of static came through the intercom. Both marines quickly snapped to attention.

“Seals secure, air pressure stabilized. Welcome abroad Protectorate One, admiral. It's an honor to have you on board.”

The technician's voice came clear through the intercom as the last whirling noises behind the door stopped. A gasp of escaping air escaped from the rim as the door in front of them spiraled open. Two columns of heavily armed and armored marines stood on either side of the hallway before them. Between them was an older man, only a few inches taller than Cassandra, dressed in a brilliant black and red NTP uniform. With slightly longer gray hair, and a trimmed but full beard, he looked quite out of place next to the rows of perfectly kept marines. His left hand lay atop an elegant ebony cane, and his right grasped the hilt of a ceremonial sword hung at his waist. Cassandra briefly recalled an image out of the history books from Old Earth.

A dozen armored boots stomped on the ground once quickly in unison as a gruff male voice instructed.

“The Lord Protector invites you ont-” but was quickly cut off.

“No need, no need,” the man in the middle said, raising his cane and waiving his hand dismissively. “She's an old friend.” His voice was laid back, with a bit of a drawl to it, but containing an undeniable authority. The marines on either side stamped their boots once more, and turned inward, remaining fixed at attention.

“Cassandra my dear, how are you?” he continued, taking a step towards the airlock and smiling widely at the admiral.

“Doing marvelously myself, Julian,” Cassandra replied, casually striding forward and leaving her bodyguards at the entrance. “Lovely to see you again. I hope Lora and Theodora are well.”

The two exchanged what started out as a formal handshake and quickly turned into a friendly embrace.

“Yes, yes. Quite well, the both of them.” The Protector stated. “Lora will be at the ceremonies tomorrow evening. I know she's looking forward to seeing you.”

“That would be lovely. Feels like I haven't seen you all in years.”

The Protector turned, and gestured with his cane down the hallway. The two figures walked side by side between the rows of statuesque guards.

“I want to thank you for accepting my invitation, Cassandra.” The Protector continued, “Your presence will really wrap up the Herald's debut tour.”

“Nonsense, Julian. You know I wouldn't miss something as important as this. It would be an honor to attend the promotion.”

“So glad you feel that way,” The Protector said. “I had briefly considered recommissioning your old flagship for the appearance. Do a sort of 'the old versus the new' type deal.”

“Not a chance,” Cassandra scoffed. “You'd have never gotten that old piece of junk space-worthy again. Not after Medea. Besides, The Herald's the ship of the future, at least from what I've read.”

“Oh yes,” The Protector quickly replied. “Quite the pinnacle of design. Massive ship, she is, more firepower than half a standard fleet combined. More heavily armored than anything in space. And fitted with the latest in command and control systems. I think you will be quite impressed.”

“Yes, I'm much looking forward to it,” Cassandra stated, “I've been over the specs you sent me. The new command interface? Not an AI, some sort of computer made out of brains?”

“Synthetic brains, yes.” The Protector corrected her, “Neuro-something matrices linked with some sort of biological computing system and blah blah, the science team can tell you all about it.”

Cassandra smiled as he went on.

“It takes the place of the old EVA interface. They call it “Sjetty”. Awfully smart machine, able to handle point defense fire, keep tabs on munitions, damage control, etc. They say it's not self aware, but you damned well wouldn't know it talking to the thing. Brilliant piece of technology.”

“Fascinating.” Cassandra replied. “Can't wait to see it. How far are we from the ship?”

They turned at the end of the hallway and approached an elevator. A pair of guards quickly stood aside as they neared.

“Observation deck.” The Protector stated, and continued his conversation. “Any minute now. I figured we'd have a quick look tonight. I can only imagine you're exhausted from your travels.”

“You have no idea, “ Cassandra replied as they walked into the elevator. “Node jumps are brutal on the innards.”

“Indeed they are,” The Protector replied with a mild smirk. “I had this ship outfitted with the new prototype node rings several years back. Makes the jump a lot easier.”

“Hah,” Cassandra laughed. “Good to be the king, eh?”

“It most certainly is,” The Protector stated as the elevator doors opened and the observation deck opened before them. The ceiling was only as high as any other deck on the ship, but three of the walls of the room were windows, allowing a gorgeous view into space over the bow.

“Oh my god...” Cassandra began, her eyes going wide, “Is that... is that it?”

“Yup. There she is,” The Protector gestured with his cane. “The ship that will lead the armada and finally break this goddamned stalemate.”

Cassandra slowly approached the window in disbelief, staring at the massive ship before them. It must have been 300 meters long, and almost a third of that at its widest. The node ring at the stern of the ship sported five large flanges, giving the vessel a unique profile compared to standard NTP design. The battle bridge stood tall over an impressively armored midsection bristling with turret emplacements. Massive armored plates covered the vulnerable midsection, with additional heavy turrets peeking over the sides. The painting on the armored side was somewhat difficult to make out in the glare, but Cassandra already knew the name of the vessel anyway, the Herald of the Fourth World. The ship's bow thinned out and sported additional heavy ballistic cannons, and further armored plating. Reinforced internal bulkheads would keep the command bridge well insulated from anything the enemy could throw at it. Cassandra could do little more than stare.

“State of the art in every way,” The Protector stated. “Magnoceramic lattices for external plating. An advanced Node Pathing ring built around a reinforced fusion reactor. Sjet-assisted point defense batteries provide 360 degree anti-ordnance fire. Main batteries provide impressive forward and broadside firepower delivering a storm of high explosive and armor piercing kinetic rounds. She can take on multiple vessels at once. Nothing we've encountered so far can withstand that much firepower. And she's only the first of many.”

“Unbelievable...” Cassandra muttered, “that thing's got to be three times larger than any ship I've ever seen.”

The Protector chuckled and walked over to a cabinet by the elevator. “Enough to make you want to come out of retirement?” he joked.

Cassandra laughed and finally broke her gaze with the Herald. “I'd love to Julian but I'd break a hip in the first minute of combat and you know it.”

The Protector pulled two antique wineglasses out of their braces in the cabinet, and placed them on a table at the far side of the room. After a few quick moments of deliberation, he selected a bottle of deep red wine and closed the cabinet doors.

“Only teasing, dear.” He stated, and gestured for her to come join him at the table. “I simply need you here for the tour. Admiral Cassandra Snow. The woman who crushed the rebel fleets at Regenta. Who broke the defensive line of Isara. The woman who won the Protectorate. The savior of Medea on two occasions.”

“What do you have planned?” Cassandra asked as she pulled out a chair and the Protector poured her a glass of wine.

“Nothing fancy.” he replied quickly. “A few stops at the core worlds with the fleet. A few speeches, your presence at some fancy dinners with planetary governors. Maybe a weapons demonstration. Have the Herald blow up some old freighters or something. You know, the same crap as always.”

Cassandra smiled and gently swirled her glass. “Just like old times then?”

“Just like old times.” The Protector nodded, “Cheers.”

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Re: Tales of the New Terran Protectorate

Post by duckbird » Fri Nov 08, 2013 6:48 pm

March 2nd, NTP Year 45
Bridge of the Herald of the Fourth World

“Eta 60 seconds.”

The navigation engineer kept her eyes locked on the display in front of her.

“Formation still holding within acceptable ranges.”

Acting admiral Fernan Pike sat nervously in the command chair of the Herald, the first of the Mars class dreadnaughts built by the Protectorate. His left hand gripped the armrest of his seat tightly while he intently scratched under his chin with the right, keeping his gaze forward on the central display screens. So disorganized, he thought, this isn't how our first battle is supposed to go. He wasn't even supposed to be captaining the ship yet, much less acting as an admiral. He was still technically a captain, and the rest of the fleet with the Herald was supposed to be heading to Iszm for retrofitting and complete overhauling. Not like this, dammit not like this.

He'd been on the Herald for several days now, and the ship had been en route to the Star Haven system, the Protectorate's forward base against the Tarkasian Empire. Everyone knew that the Tarkasian FTL systems were hard to track, but there was no way a fleet should have penetrated this far into Protectorate space. How had they gotten past the Draco and Petacom patrol fleets? Only 14 hours ago the message was received. A Tarkasian fleet had been spotted approaching the Uxor system, and was less than a day away from arrival. Not a single active Protectorate fleet was in position to intercept. The colony would have been defenseless.

The Herald of the Fourth World, intended to be the flagship of a new Terran armada prepping for an invasion of the Tarkasian homeworld, happened to have been within range to respond in time. Along with it, three outdated Avenger Mk II torpedo cruisers, and two old Gothic Mk III battlecruisers, all slated for the drydocks. A hasty fleet had been put together and made the jump from Isara to intercept. Pike was supposed to be captain of the Herald when the armada launched next year, and so he was familiar with the ship, but he wasn't at all sure of engaging a hostile fleet in friendly space with outdated ships. The stakes were way too high.

Either we save the day, and we're heroes, or we screw up and the planet gets glassed. They'll have my head on a pike...

“Eta 10 seconds,”

The technicians voice jolted him out of his thoughts. Calm, stay calm, you're in command, got to do this smart.

Captain Pike straightened his back and leaned forward in his chair.

“Prepare entry into real space,” he began, “get sensors up, get me a line to planetary command, and paint a picture of that system.”

The bridge crew sat anxiously at their controls, waiting for the uncomfortable breach out of subspace. A faint humming slowly came into the room and quickly gained in intensity for half a second. Pike braced himself in his chair and shut his eyes. Even with his eyes closed, he could still feel his visual field tense and warp, as if it had been tugged on at every edge and then suddenly released. The whole ship felt as if it had suddenly lurched forward and backward many times in the span of an instant.

The view screens lit up immediately, showing the space ahead of the ship, as well as a system map showing their relative location to Uxor, and the enemy fleet.

We're not too late, Pike thought to himself.

“Planetary command on screen 1, Captain!”
“All ships present and accounted for, no node distortions.”

He'd been scared for a second. The 5 cruisers with the Herald were using very outdated node engine technology. Some past tests involving different generations of node drive jumping in close proximity had resulted in disaster. The last thing they needed was for one of their ships to come apart on reentry before the battle.

The Tarkasian fleet was on a direct course for the colony, but still far enough off to intercept.

Pike straightened again. “All ahead full, get us between them and the colony.”

“All ahead full acknowledged, engines at maximum thrust.”

Pike glanced around at the crew of the bridge. Everyone was solid, but no one had been expecting a battle under these circumstances. There was a definite tension in the room.

A brief burst of static came through from the left display.

“Herald come in, Herald come in. This is Uxor ground command, we have you on sensors.”

The distressed voice came in clear enough through the speaker. Pike could only imagine the chaos occurring on the surface. He wasn't actually sure if the population was aware of the threat yet.

“Uxor ground, I need your sensor data. We are on an intercept course and heading for your position.”

“Ack- acknowledged, Herald. Transmitting now!”

“Sjetty, link our sensors with those from the surface, see what we're up against.”

A calm synthetic voice responded, “At once, admiral. Transmission opened, streaming to communications command.”

Pike looked to his left. The communications engineer was furiously navigating his display. “Alright, got it. Ok, designs we recognize. Looks to be... eleven cruisers. Three carrying assault shuttles, and two supply transports. Leaves us with six combat vessels. Heavy gunships, same type as at Petacom.”

Only six combat cruisers? Pike thought to himself, not as bad as I feared. But stopping those assault shuttles before they start leveling cities... He could very well win this battle and still be hanged for incompetence.

“Wreath, Deliverance, Arizona, come to new heading 4, 23, 3. Maintain maximum weapons range and prepare to intercept assault shuttles. York, Jobie, fall in behind the Herald.”

“Acknowledged, admiral,” came the reply from the other vessels. The artillery cruisers broke out of their formation and made a beeline for the planet. The two gunships stayed behind the Herald as the three ships headed straight for the approaching enemy.

Every second dragged on longer than the last. There was a tangible anxiety on the bridge. Pike did his best to calm his nerves and keep his cool, staring straight at the central display. The enemy was rapidly closing with them, and suddenly hundreds of small icons sprang into view on the tactical map.

“Multiple warhead launches, captain. Impact in thirty seconds.”

“Reduce to combat speed. Sjetty, activate point defense.”

“Point defense field active.” came the reply from the eerily calm biological computer.

“Return fire, torpedoes away!” Pike ordered.

The Wreath, Deliverance, and Arizona launched their first salvo of fusion torpedoes. The crimson balls of lightning arced gracefully through space, quickly being represented on the Herald's tactical map. Missile launches from the York and Jobie joined the torpedoes, and the projectiles streaked towards the approaching alien fleet.

The crew watched intently as the wave of artillery came into their view screen and approached the oncoming vessels. The Tarkasian ships began to flicker, tiny flashes of light erupting along their hulls, and what almost looked like fireworks began bursting in a wide arc in front of their formation. The torpedoes veered and swerved, attempting to penetrate the flak field, but the overwhelming fire coming from the ships was too much. The torpedoes couldn't maintain their containment fields and burst, harmlessly away from their targets. Not a single missile found its mark.

The Herald's own point defense turrets also snapped into motion, and thousands of tiny laser bursts began peppering the incoming Tarkasian missiles. Most burst far from the hull, but a faint series of thuds indicated that several had found their mark.

“Armor holding strong, captain. Minimal damage.”

Nothing's getting through that point defense field. We've got to close with them.

“Combat speed ahead, bring us into weapons range. Target their gunships first. Artillery, coordinate your fire with planetary command and try to find some holes in their point defense field!”

The Herald barreled forward towards the oncoming ships, with the York and Jobie on either flank.

“Batteries in range in 10 seconds, captain.”

“Prepare to break off when within range, keep us on their port side, force them to maneuver around each other for line of sight. Order all batteries to salvo fire.”

“Maneuver ready, captain.”

The entire crew of the bridge was tense. Time slowed to a crawl as the alien ships grew larger on the main screen. Their symbols on the tactical map show their formation rapidly approaching the Herald's weapon ranges. The Tarkasian fleet moved as one, and all six heavy cruisers began turning towards the oncoming Terran warship, their prow batteries ready to fire.

“Open fire! Hard to starboard, keep us out of their firing arcs!”

The scene depicted on the main screen burst into light as the Herald's guns went off in unison. The ship began steering to the right, weapons batteries tracking their targets. Trails of fire streaked from the cannons as the heavy rounds streaked towards the leading Tarkasian cruiser. They were barely visible in the chaos before them. Defense batteries on the alien fleet blazed into action, spewing thousands of tiny explosive rounds into the space between the two fleets.

The leading cruiser suddenly veered a few degrees over its port side, the hull of its prow crumpling in several places as the Herald's first volley impacted. A series of bright explosions plumed out of gaping holes an instant later, and the ship began listing heavily on its side, drifting out of formation with fire roaring from its wounds.

“All batteries, continuous fire!”

The Herald rumbled softly as each gunnery team fired their weapons as quickly as possible. The rumbling was more strongly punctuated by rougher jolts through the ship as the alien vessels returned fire. A hail of solid rounds streamed from the approaching cruisers, smashing into the Herald's port side as her own guns rained exploding shells back at them.

The Herald was heavily armored, but the sheer volume of fire coming from the hostile fleet was daunting. Multiple impacts continuously rocked the ship as the two fleets circled each other.

The crew of the bridge stared in tense silence, watching the developing battle and keeping a close eye on their displays. Captain Pike stared intently at the tactical map, wondering which fleet would give in first.

The communications officer broke the silence and snapped his head to the captain. “Distress beacon from the York, they're breaking off.”

“Understood,” Pike replied, “Hard alee, cover their retreat!”

He couldn't blame the smaller and outdated vessels for pulling back. Even modern cruisers fresh out of the shipyards couldn't go toe to toe with the alien vessels.

The Herald began turning to the left, hard to feel with the artificial gravity and inertial dampeners, but the displays helped convey the ship's direction.

The target of the Herald's guns was attempting to disengage, pulling out of formation of the rest of the Tarkasian ships as explosive rounds streaked towards her. Flames trailed from several gaps in the hull as more shells found their mark. Something powerful detonated in the alien vessel, and a massive explosion tore the rear of the cruiser wide open, belching fire and debris into the void. The ship rolled over and over, clearly out of control.

Pike was about to issue a new target when several more impacts rocked the Herald and the main display suddenly cut out.

“Forward sensors are out, admiral!”

“Tactical map on main display!” Pike ordered, feeling each successive impact to his ship more strongly than the last. The Herald tore forward, the remaining four intact enemy cruisers trying to keep their batteries on target.

“Jobie's just ordered all hands to abandon ship, she's breaking up!”

“Keep firing, we can't let them near the colony!”

The bridge shook again, and an alarm claxon blared out, filling the bridge with noise.

“Hull breach on deck 6, echo battery is down!”

The tension mounted. Even Pike wasn't sure how much more damage the Herald could take. Her remaining gun batteries continued to rain death onto the pursuing cruisers, and another of the alien vessels seemed to be falling behind. More impacts rocked the bridge.

“Fire alarm on decks 5 and 6, our port side can't take much more of this...”

Pike was torn. By the time they could bring the entire ship about the enemy would have gotten several full volleys off at the vulnerable engines. He was about to risk the maneuver when another ensign piped up.

“Major energy spikes from the remaining vessels... I think they're jumping!”

The income fire stopped, and one by one in rapid succession the surviving alien cruisers dropped off the display, roaring out of system at FTL speeds. They'd done it. The colony was safe. The bridge crew roared into applause and shouts, leaping and congratulating each other. The communications officer remained glued to his console, quickly compiling data.

“Full damage report,” Pike ordered.

“Jobie's down, York is hulked but the crew reports being safely holed up inside. Artillery ships taken only minor damage. No enemy assault shuttles reached the planet. We've got a hell of a hole on deck 6, and anyone bunking in 2nd rax might need to find another place to sleep tonight.”

Pike relaxed. They'd done it, and with acceptable losses. The crew of the Jobie would be sorely missed, but the lives of the colonists had been saved. It wasn't quite right though. Such a reckless attack this far into Terran space by a single fleet was unlike anything the Tarkas had tried before. It didn't make sense.

A quick blip on the communications screen. The officer in front of it quickly opened it and read.

“Priority from Fleet Command, Sir.” The ensign spoke, turning slowly the captain. “Distress beacon from Star Haven. Multiple hostile fleets on rapid approach...”

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Re: Tales of the New Terran Protectorate

Post by ScoSteSal118 » Fri Nov 08, 2013 8:21 pm

Squee! That presentation of a tactical battle was really cool!

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Re: Tales of the New Terran Protectorate

Post by Mecron » Fri Nov 08, 2013 9:33 pm

once again, great work!

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Re: Tales of the New Terran Protectorate

Post by Heart of Storm » Wed Nov 13, 2013 1:54 pm

Logged in from a long hiatus just to say how excellent this TAR is, bravo sir!

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Re: Tales of the New Terran Protectorate

Post by duckbird » Thu Nov 14, 2013 3:32 am

Thanks! I am no sir, though, lol.

Anyway I do plan on continuing this but I've been too addicted to multiplayer (soooo much better than SP) to progress any further in my story game. I will try to work on it when I'm able!

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Re: Tales of the New Terran Protectorate

Post by marshb » Fri Nov 15, 2013 2:36 am

duckbird wrote:Thanks! I am no sir, though, lol.

Anyway I do plan on continuing this but I've been too addicted to multiplayer (soooo much better than SP) to progress any further in my story game. I will try to work on it when I'm able!

AWWWMAAAN! lol just kidding! Great read and I'll just have to be patient until the next installment. :thumbsup:
Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb, we are bound to others. Past and present. And by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.

Orison of Sonmi-451

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