LANCER: BATTLEGROUP - To Kill the Worthy King

Targeting Priorities

"It looks like the Bukharin is drawing their fire sir," Chief Van Ghent notes, as they watch the sensor blips swarm around Battlegroup Eland and the Sour Brains. The Wagner's bridge lighting is transitioning from a calming blue to a considerably more alarming red as the titanic vessel shudders from the massive overcharge building in its guns.

Caspian nods in satisfaction "Very well then, that leaves us free to set things up. Gunnery, how does it look?"

"Starboard SPK is 110% and staying with the curve. Port SPK is at 128% and climbing. We're keeping it under control but only barely," CGO Bryant reports as yet another tremor runs through the Wagner's kilometer long hull. "Targeting solutions are nominal."

"Noted, Gunnery - Sensors: I want a firing solution on the Titania."

"Sir?" Bryant looks up, "Didn't Captain St. Germaine tell us to deal with the Shaka Zulu first?"

"She did, but I am exercising my authority to prioritize targets as necessary, Chief. We can kill the Shaka Zulu with just a tap of our main guns but the Titania will take considerably more of a pounding to deal with and I don't think Captain St. Germaine is going to be able to turn her attention to it anytime soon." He looks down at the plot.

"I don't like weird-tech on my screen, so I am ordering you to remove it from my screen."

"Yes sir," CGO Bryant looks back at her screen and taps out the necessary adjustments.

The Omninet is still experiencing a bit of signal degradation from the stellar flare activity, so Major Mahayhay's transmission is briefly smeared and jumpy. She doesn't sound pleased.

"I see you're increased targeting priority on the Titania, Captain Var. I'm sure you're aware that we have hundreds of our marines breaching her hull as we speak, correct? I'm sure you have a good reason for this."

In all fairness, the developing tactical situation as shown by the fleet legion over the past hours has alarmed quite a few officers. The amount of firepower that the Titania is lending to the fight - and the charging weapons it has yet to unleash - has led Aegis to highlight the ship for higher attack priority. The battlegroup captains have already been wondering if a change in targets is needed. And the marines knew the risk when they set out...

"We must remove as many pieces from the board as quickly as possible, Major, before the damage begins to add up." Caspian stares intently at the tactical scope as CGO Bryant looks in askance at him.

"Fine, Gunnery - open the breakers. Prepare to for an immediate power dump into the Starboard SPK as soon as we've fired." The entire weapons crew turn at that.

"Sir - that will guarantee we fry every circuit between gun decks A and B and will almost certainly blow the starboard SPK," Bryant says, cocking her head.

"I understand, Chief. I also understand that you will obey my orders as necessary. Open the breakers, lock down all weapons spaces. Sensors, switch our target lock to the Shaka Zulu," Caspian rasps between his teeth. Then he turns back to fleet comms.

"You have your time, Major. Make sure it counts. Understand - unless your Marines can take the Titania out of the fight, I will fire both weapons at it and damn the consequences!"

"CSO! Engage the tractor beams. If we are going to have to take it on the chin I want our ships protected. Close the Sandstorm around the Björn Járnsíða."

Battlegroup Splinter:
Tactic: Lithoscreen on the Björn Járnsíða. Gain 5 Overshield
Tactic: Lock Firing Solution - Target: PCV-DN Shaka Zulu
 
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Ill Met In Legionspace

Battlegroup Hannibal:
1) Maneuver: Heavy Kinetic Battery Fire, Single Target Attack at Range 4-0, targeting two ships (Nikolai Bukharin and We Demand Hazard Pay). Roll of 16 hits the Bukharin for 6 damage, roll of 6 misses the We Demand Hazard Pay. This is pretty much all it can do. Its movement options are currently shut down by the Legionspace Siren.


"Understood, Captain Var," says Major Mahayhay, without managing to look much happier. "My marines have orders to sabotage fire control, spike the drives, and get out once the ship starts to die. Thank you for keeping me in the loop."

She closes the channel.

The Hannibal sits in place, pounding away with its primary guns, attempting to find the range on the Bukharin and the mercenary carrier. A barrage strikes the Bukharin amidships, wrecking Printer Bay C and killing dozens of spacers. We Demand Hazard Pay is more fortunate, gliding right between volleys of cannonfire.

In the spaces between spaces, in the Blink, hostile ontological signals worm into Aelita's legionspace.

<Do Not Proceed>
<Drive Not Available>
<Maintain Present Course>

She knows these signals are foreign, yet the Hannibal cannot accelerate or decelerate further. She reaches out to engage the turtleback ship's drives - nothing.

"You won't have luck with the drives, unless you want to turn the crew into jam."

Aelita turns to see her opposite number manifesting in legionspace.

Aegis presents as a knight, clothed in mail and bearing a tower shield emblazoned in Union red. She gives a little salute to the Armory legion.

Aelita stays loose on her feet, letting her arms float in neutral position at her sides. "I just didn't think that Union would stoop to using pirate tricks."

"Call it what you want. You shall not pass."

Aelita draws twin swords into digital existence. "If you've come to test my defenses, I will have to disappoint you. My component minds are made in Ras Shamra, Armory-forged and harder than the heart of a gas giant. My fleet will win."

"Come on, then."

The two fleet legions clash, locking esoteric weapons together to produce an unreal bonfire of cosubjectivities.

Next: Boarding parties
 
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A Hard Rain

"Boss! Over here!" The shout comes from just up ahead - Printer Bay C in Sector 52A. Of all the luck. This is the second time the Bukharin has been hit in this exact spot.

The damage control chief, Aaronsen, hurries up the passage. His team follows close behind. "Coming!" he shouts. "Any casualties?"

Loose-leaf debris drifts past, along with globules of blood. At the end of the passage, a shaky figure in a vac-suit floats out, covered in blood and ash. "All the others are gone...just gone..."

"Get that spacer to the aid station!" Aaronsen orders.

Entering the ruined cavity that once was the printer bay, Aaronsen surveys the scene. The void of space can be seen through a massive hole in the hull. He calls up Warrant Officer Gbeho. "Hull breached here. Sixteen dead, one in shock. Printer is a total loss, and we have some bad hull vibrations. Tempted to call it a -"

He stops. There is a flash just outside, in the black sky, maybe half a klick out.

Then a heavy rain starts spattering against the edges of the hole.

"Sorry, I got distracted, Chief. Surprise weather. It's raining marine bits."

Boarding Step
Mirrorsmoke marines (Facefirst) board Hannibal, roll 20! Success, so they get a foothold and shut down the Turtleback's primary drives. The ship cannot perform any forced movement next round.
Mirrorsmoke marines (Fool's Gold) board Titania, roll 6. They have trouble breaching their way through hull plating.

Shaka Zulu's Roughnecks board Nikolai Bukharin, roll 7. They fail to get a foothold.
Shaka Zulu's Roughnecks board Shamokin Rising, roll 6. They fail also.
 
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State of the Fleets

End of Round.

State of the fleets:

2nd Crisis Response Group (Union Navy)

Battlegroup Eland (Range 3)
Interdiction 1d6+2
UNS-BB Nikolai Bukharin (25 HP), 1 volley token on 3x3 Block Short-Spool Cannons, boarding attempts by Tenacity 10 Marines.
UNS-CV Shamokin Rising (16 HP), boarding attempts by Tenacity 10 Marines.

  • 2x Fighter Wing (5 HP, 5 HP)
  • Destroyer Unicorn (6 HP)
  • Destroyer Undine (8 HP)

Battlegroup Splinter (Range 5),
Interdiction: 1d6+2
UNS-BB Richard Wagner (22 HP), 1 charge token and 2 overcharge tokens on Spinal Petajoule Kinetic, 2 charge tokens on Spinal Petajoule Kinetic, Lock On.
UNS-LS Björn Járnsiđa (13 HP, 5 OS from Sandstorm)

Battlegroup Sour Brains (Range 3)
Interdiction: 1d6+2
MSMCS We Demand Hazard Pay (23 HP)

  • 4x Mounted Chassis Wing (5 HP, 5 HP, 5 HP, 5 HP)
  • MSMCS Facefirst (8 HP)
  • MSMCS Fool's Gold (6 HP)
2nd Expeditionary Fleet (Harrison Armory Colonial Legionate)

Battlegroup Hannibal (Gyre Center)
Interdiction: 1d6
PCV-DN Hannibal (Turtleback) (35 HP), Boarded by Tenacity 10 Marines. Disabled Primary Drives: Cannot use or benefit from movement abilities until end of its next turn.

  • 1x Brothers in Arms (8 HP), 1 charge token on Short-Spool Spinal Guns (1/2 strength)

Battlegroup Shaka Zulu (Gyre Center),
Interdiction: 2d6+2
PCV-DN Shaka Zulu (Paladin) (21 HP), 2 charge tokens on RED GIANT Solar Lance, Lock On.

  • 2x Roughnecks (8 HP, 8 HP)
  • Ace: Albedo Cavalier (10 HP), 1 charge token on 1 Beam.

Battlegroup Titania (Gyre Center)
Interdiction: 2d6
PCV-DN Titania (UNKNOWN Man O'War) (35 HP), 1 charge token on Naphoros Omnigun, 3 charge tokens on Demisolar Lance, 2 reloading tokens on Pulse-Pack Missiles. Boarding attempts by Tenacity 10 Marines.

  • 4x Daggerflight (6 HP, 6 HP, 6 HP, 4 HP)
 
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Pattern Breaker. Shipbreaker.

Caspian's face tightens angrily at reports of the problems the Mirrorsmoke marines are having in breaching the Titania's hull. No matter - it was a calculated risk. He turns to the comms screen.

"Major Mahayhay, recall your Marines immediately from the Titania. Get them out of the blast zone as expeditiously as possible. The Titania will not be allowed to complete its charge up procedures. Gunnery - start pushing charge from the Port SPK to starboard."

"Already at 150% charge Captain," Bryant says, her eyes never leaving her systems screen glowing a seething crimson before her, "Port SPK is holding at 115% charge and climbing," The ship shudders as if to underline her statement as the Wagner's mighty SMESs strain under the titanic loads.

Caspian nods, "Very well then. Take out the Shaka Zulu then prepare for emergency surging procedures to take out the Titania," Just ahead and below, the Björn Járnsiđa once more lashes out at the Shaka Zulu with its twin Harbingers, vaporizing armor and tearing rents in her outer hull.

Battlegroup Splinter:

Remove one charge token and add one overcharge token on SPK1 - weapon will fire on impact phase. Remove one charge token and add one overcharge token on SPK2 - 1 charge token remaining UNS-BB Richard Wagner takes 2 points of damage.
Björn Járnsiđa fires 2x Harbinger Confidence Lasers - deals 4 damage to the Shaka Zulu

On the bridge of the PCV-DN Shaka Zulu, Strike Captain Catrina Bannon watches as charge countdowns for the Roy and the Richard Wagner reach zero.

"Aelita, activate LAP anti-photon OVERPLATE sheathes. Let's show them our tiger stripes."

"Affirmative, Strike Captain."

In an instant, the Shaka Zulu's sensor outline is shot through with slashes of darkness. A dreadnought becomes a constellation of splinters.

"Fascinating," says Aegis to the Union captains. "It resembles a modern version of what classic navies called 'pattern-breaker camouflage.' Estimated 20% target profile reduction." To Caspian, she adds: "Spinal Kinetic Cannon is ready to fire."

Battlegroup Hannibal:

Brothers In Arms removes 1 charge token from Short-Spool Spinal Guns, ready to fire.

Battlegroup Shaka Zulu: Shaka Zulu removes 1 charge token from RED GIANT Solar Lance, and uses System: Low Albedo Plating to gain +4 Defense until its next Logistics Step (Reloading 2).


Battlegroup Titania: Titania removes 1 charge token from Demisolar Lance. Its targeting laser deals 2 damage to Richard Wagner. Titania adds an omnigun charge token to Naphoros Omnigun. Titania removes a Reloading token from Pulse-Pack Missiles.

Caspian doesn't say anything and simply nods silently at Bryant. The CGO nods in reply, checks the last series of calculations on her screen and hits the fire button.

The lights on the Wagner's bridge flicker and the mighty warship groans as it physically decelerates as the starboard SPK discharges slinging its hyperdense payload at the Purview battleship at the head of a coruscating energy beam.

Bryant's gunnery team has done its job well. Despite the sudden appearance of the Shaka Zulu's deceptive electro-optical spoofing, the shot slams into the dramatically evading ship at a vicious angle, blasting through its shields and outer armor plates, shearing massive chunks out of the vast structure, dramatically venting atmosphere into space. The slug gouges a kilometer-long gash before shearing off and clipping one of the Roughnecks attempting to board the Bukharin, tearing a large section out of its rear hull before continuing on into the cold void.

On top of killing the Shaka Zulu and damaging one Roughneck, the other Roughneck is also destroyed in the ensuing explosion.

A tiny number of survivors make it to the lifeboats.

The maimed Roughneck and the single Ace mech head for the shadow of the Hannibal for shelter.

Richard Wagner SPK roll: 14 (4,1,1)
Damage: 15+2+3+3 = 23 damage to the Shaka Zulu (21 HP at start of round, 4 points of damage from the Harbingers for 27 points of damage this round (31 total) for a damage result of -6)
Damage: 5 points to the Roughneck engaging the Nikolai Bukharin


Next: Below the Fold
 
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Metafold, Part 1

Caspian watches with satisfaction as the crippled Shaka Zulu tumbles out of control from the momentum imparted by the hit. The massive warship seems to flex along the axis of the impact as lights begin to wink out along its hull. Then it begins to break up, the entire bow shearing off from the damage, spewing debris and loose gasses as it goes. The rapidly tumbling, uncontrolled hulk then slams full tilt into one of its Marine transports, crushing it like an egg and breaking the hull up even further, adding to the carnage.

"Target destroyed, port SPK at 125%. Zeroing in on the Titania," Bryant states matter-of-factly.

"Good shot, Captain," says Major Mahayhay over the Omninet. "I'm giving my marines a few minutes to see if they can do some more sabotage, then I'll tell then to run. And watch your twelve, Captain, the rest of the Purvies are going to -"

The transmission cuts off in static. More of that stellar flare activity.

Off to the Richard Wagner's flank, the Björn Járnsiđa huddles behind its makeshift shield of asteroid rock. A paracausal projectile, seemingly materializing out of nowhere, spalls off the asteroid shielding. The Omnigun is repeating fire on target, and it's getting stronger.

The Roy fires at the Richard Wagner, to avenge the Siegfried, not using Lock On since someone else is planning to use that. Roll: 2. Accuracy dice both rolled 1, so a huge miss.

The Titania's Omnigun pings Björn Járnsiđa for 2 to the Overshield.


On the bridge of the Titania, there are gasps of astonishment and a few drawn-out curses. The Shaka Zulu - destroyed just like that.

Captain Ermin Klukas raises a hand to order silence, and get the crew's attention. "Signal the fleet - as senior officer in the immediate area, I am assuming command. We will not stand back any longer."

Aelita shimmers on the screen behind Klukas. The fleetmind is diminished from her fight with Aegis, and from the death of the Shaka Zulu, but she maintains her imposing visage. "I have picked up signals from the lifeboats trailing the Shaka Zulu's wreck. Strike Captain Bannon has escaped and will be raising her flag on the Hannibal."

Klukas' expression doesn't change. "She's not on the fleet legion channel now, is she?"

"No, her lifeboat does not have the facilities -"

"Then I am in command for the moment, and I intend to salvage this fight. When the Arminius arrives, there will still be some semblance of a fleet for it to join. Is the tunneler ready?"

"Yes, Captain," replies the Special Weapons Officer, Lieutenant Marken.

Klukas gestures at Battlegroup Eland. Then at Battlegroup Splinter. "Target them. Initiate Metafold Breach."

Metafold Breach (System)

Space lurches and twists around you, folding in upon itself. The impossible, however improbable, is briefly made possible, and the lines of battle are suddenly redrawn.

After the Impact Step, but before anyone begins their Action Step, you may activate this system and choose one; you may advance or push back a hostile battlegroup one range band or pick two hostile battlegroups one or two range bands apart from one another and force them to switch range bands. Switching range bands this way does not count as movement and cannot be affected by things that affect or are triggered by movement. This system may only be used during even numbered rounds (round 2, round 4, etc).
Micheal_Ney.png

Michel Ney-Class Dreadnought by @Lymphowned
 
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Metafold, Part 2

The stars...are not where they should be.

Aegis stutters as a hundred thousand kilometers of light-lag throw her Omninet-to-realspace connections into confusion. The fleet legion is briefly silent. It takes a full three seconds for her to realise what is happening.

On the bridge of the Nikolai Bukharin, the human crew are starting to realise what their impossible sensor readings are telling them.

Aegis speaks at last. "Captain St. Germaine, we have been...moved."

On the bridge of the We Demand Hazard Pay, Colonel Milch growls. "What?!" He stares disbelievingly at the battleship in formation next to his vessel.

It's the Richard Wagner. And alongside it, the Björn Járnsiđa.

"This is bad," says Major Mahayhay. "They're going to get jumped."

"Where are the destroyers?" asks Zoltan Pesh. "The fighters, the carrier?"

Colonel Milch looks at his readout, still shaking his head. "Mother of Pearl. They're all back out there, the entire Battlegroup Eland, a hundred thousand klicks behind us, where the Wagner should be!"

The Hannibal remains unable to maneuver. A handful of defiant mercenary marines have taken key positions near the drives and are keeping this ship locked in place. But the Titania surges forward, beginning its charge towards the Wagner.

"Aegis!" shouts Colonel Milch, "Tell Captain Var we can run interference! We'll get in the way of that thing and scramble its nav control, buy some time!"

Next: The Wagner Herself
 
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Places, Places

Battlegroup Eland is now at Range 5. Battlegroup Splinter is now at Range 3.

Caspian looks at the plot in annoyance, "I appreciate the sentiment Colonel but I am considerably more worried about getting picked apart or boarded by these pests." He highlights the sole surviving Roughneck and the Zulu's orphan mech. He straightens and speaks a little louder, as much to his stunned crew as to the leader of the Sour Brains.

"This cannot be allowed to interfere with the unfolding of our plan. We will fire all weapons with all the power we can muster at the Titania and - if we have any left over - any additional reinforcements if and when they arrive. The displacement of the Bukharin is a problem but it does not immediately concern us. It only matters that the Wagner survives long enough unmolested to destroy the Titania."

"If we survive, WE will be the ones closing in. We have our Razorbacks and an express delivery of frigate sized rocks. And if anyone is still standing, we have the Wagner herself." His eyes narrow.

"Clear the space around us and make sure nothing gets in our way of our guns. Take it away, Colonel. Tabitha? I will need the Bukharin to provide targeting information for us. I have a feeling we will have our hands full very soon."

"'If anyone is still standing, we have the Wagner herself?'" Zoltan Pesh exchanges a look with Mahayhay, then starts fussing with a datapad.

"What are you doing?"

"Updating my risk assessment of the Union battleship."

"Waste of time." Mahayhay turns and delivers her orders to the mechanized chassis wings. "Laurent and Guiscard Wings, hunt down the surviving mech from the Shaka Zulu. Bernadette and Isabeau Wings, seek and destroy the Armory's remaining marine transports."

Isabeau Leader voices an objection: "Most of the smaller landers are circling the Shamokin Rising and Nikolai Bukharin. 30 minutes away."

"Well, focus on the ones around here. And if you see any of those corvettes, swat them too."

The internal lights of the lifeboat are dim, and a wounded crew member is strapped next to Strike Captain Bannon. He groans and tries to clutch at his bloody face, but can't free himself from the restraints. He's all that's left of Bannon's crew.

Two years in charge of six hundred proud Rittermeer spacers. All gone now.

A seat over, the humming NHP Core of the Shaka Zulu has been strapped in just as tightly. Once they get to the Hannibal, it will be plugged in and connected with the Omninet, restoring Aegis to her full capabilities. Given how slowly the lifeboat is inching along, it could be hours before they reach the battleship.

Somewhere, an air vent is hissing incessantly. Groans continue. It's very stressful. Bannon keeps her suit helmet close by in case O2 levels drop too low.

The former fleet commander keeps her gaze focused on the small terminal in front of her. The lifeboat's systems are too limited to join the fleet legion, but there's a simplified partition of Aegis running on the terminal. If the multi-NHP mind of Aegis was an almighty triumvirate deity, the partition is a small god, like the kind that manages a tiny shrine at the roadside.

The partition tries its best to show Bannon a smooth and cohesive report of the battle, but it's slow and laggy, making it an extreme exercise in frustration.

She watches the mech assault unfold, helpless to affect the battle in any way.

The Mirrorsmoke mercenary mechs fly into the shadow of the mighty Hannibal, where the surviving Roughneck transport and the strange lone mech are regrouping. The mercs are eager to finish the last of Shaka Zulu's battlegroup.

The Roughneck is completely out of breaching pods and boarding skiffs - they're all still out there somewhere, attacking Battlegroup Eland in their final doomed action. But the marine barge's point-defense turrets are still a threat, blazing away at the approaching Everests and Raleighs of Isabeau Wing. A fatal flash as a mech dies, another flash, another flash.

"Get around the other side, watch that flak - "

"Goddamnit no -"

"Pulling back, I'm overheating..."

These mercenaries lack real space combat experience, and it shows. Well, they were brave, at least.

The Roughneck is also defended by a single stray Daggerflight Corvette, a long way from its berth on the Titania. The corvette trades rapidfire shots with numerous mechs of Bernadette Wing, giving as good as it gets.

Mercenary missile pods and laser rifles continue to tear at the Roughneck. Turret after turret goes silent. One last mech from Isabeau Wing, trailing flame, plunges into the damaged Roughneck at an absurd velocity. The resulting explosion is stunningly bright. The Titania's corvette falls back, its ammo load expended, its hull severely damaged.

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Encounters in Space by Peyton Gee

Further away, two other wings of mechs swirl around the Albedo Cavalier like fireflies in a frenzy. But killing the advanced chassis is harder than it seems. With its caloric converters, reactor superchargers and aggressive thermal exchangers, every energy-based weapon only fuels its systems further. Laurent and Guiscard Wing peel away, bled of some of their best pilots. The nimble Cavalier flies free, seemingly untouched.

The mercenary mechs have taken painful losses and are fleeing back to their carrier to rearm. But Bannon only feels the Roughneck's loss in her furious heart. "Damn your eyes, Captain St. Germaine," she says. "I will execute you myself..."

Battlegroup Sour Brains:
1) Tactic: Raiding Party - order 2 Wings to perform Marauders (deal 1d3 damage to a hostile Escort or Wing and take that much damage in return). First target is the surviving Armory Roughneck, roll of 3 damage which is enough to kill it; but Roughnecks have Point-Defense Kinetics and deal 2 damage back to any Escort or Wing that damages it. Mutual annihilation. Second target is one of the Titania's corvettes (the damaged one), roll of 2 damage, which is not enough to kill it.

2) Tactic: Raiding Party - order 2 Wings to perform Marauders. Both attack the Albedo Cavalier, rolls of 2 and 2. The Albedo Cavalier has the trait Highwire Act, which reduces all damage it takes from hostile sources by 1 to a minimum of 0 when above half HP, and gains +2 to all damage effects when at half HP or below.

End result: the surviving Mirrorsmoke Mounted Chassis Wings are at 3 HP, 3 HP and 3 HP, while the last Armory Roughneck goes out in a blaze of glory, and the Albedo Cavalier is at 8 HP.
 
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For Ras Shamra and Rittermeer

Despite the earlier failure to land a solid hit on the Nikolai Bukharin, the Titania and its escorts are still doing more work than any other Purview battlegroup in this engagement. Amidst a firestorm of secondary turret fire and mech weaponry, the Titania's corvettes rearm in hangar berths, then speed back out across the kill zone, delivering strike after strike against both the mercenaries and the Union ships. Again and again.

Captain Klukas lays out his intentions.

"Captain Ashanti, you're doing exactly what we need. Keep firing on the drift, you are the pivot point in our line. The Titania will be the swinging door, and we will close it on that charge-weapon monstrosity in the Union fleet."

Ashanti's face darkens. "That's not the plan," she says. "The Strike Captain wants us to keep our distance and play for time."

"The plan got an entire dreadnought shot out from under the Strike Captain," says Klukas drolly. "The sooner we get under the Wagner's minimum range, the better. Their frigate's Harbinger lasers will be unable to touch us. The Red bastards will have no choice but to face us at visual range."

"Understood, Captain," says Aelita. I will retask the Demisolar Lance to an alternative target."

Ashanti continues to protest. "The Arminius is almost here! Klukas, you can't do this, you're only my senior by half a term. You have to hold the line until the carriers come."

"Boldness is what will win this war," Klukas says in his soft voice. "I intend to work for our victory. Unlike you, I didn't purchase my commission."

Battlegroup Titania:
1) Tactic: Battery Fire. The Daggerflight corvettes deal 2 damage to Bernadette Wing, 2 damage to We Demand Hazard Pay, 2 damage to Richard Wagner and 2 damage to Björn Járnsiđa.

2) Maneuver: Inexorable Advance. Titania gains 5 Overshield. Advance a hostile battlegroup one range band forward: Battlegroup Splinter to Range 2.

Crew chiefs throughout the Titania exhort their departments to give it their all, "For Ras Shamra and Rittermeer!" The mighty Purview dreadnought drives forward, aiming to cut off Battlegroup Splinter from the mercenaries. Charged bow plating and forward shields are boosted to maximum strength.

The Hannibal continues to lay down kinetic barrages. The remaining spinal gun destroyer charges its banks for another shot. Stray mercenary mechs dogfight with Armory corvettes. Debris still expands from the shattered Shaka Zulu. The clock continues to tick. Reinforcements are still dashing to join the Armory fleet at dangerous nearlight speeds.

The battle stretches into the second half of the first day.

Next: Triangle
 
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The Closing Triangle

"Dammit Caspian," Tabitha whispers as she watches the melee develop on the screen. The crew of the Nikolai Bukharin are still shaken by the sudden reversal with fear and anger etched on their faces as they watch mercenary pilots flicker out of existence, painfully out of range as Battlegroup Eland powers back towards the fray.

"He's going to stand and fight," Tabitha grimaces as she watches the Wagner's kilometer-long hull swing to face the Titania.

"Can he do that?" Elliot Meade asks tensely. "They're almost directly under his guns at this point..."

"He's going to try. Caspian was never one to step back from a challenge. And he's going to get a lot of people killed," Tabitha grits her teeth and pounds the plot in anger.

"Engineering! Give her everything you've got! Gunnery, get a lock on the Titania! We give him what he needs to work with and try to mop up what's left."

The Bukharin's chasers begin to open up as she slowly claws her way back into range.

"Colonel Milch, Captain Var - everyone hang in there and try to stay alive!"

The Metafold Breach may have relocated its targets, but it did nothing to change their speed and momentum. The Thoreau-class battleship and its battlegroup continue their advance at maximum burn. The short-spool cannons hum with growing power. The heavy kinetic primaries lay volleys down what feels like the longest gun range Tabitha's ever seen.

The sensor dots that represent the Wagner and the Titania keep getting closer together while the We Demand Hazard Pay falls behind, like the corner points of a narrowing isosceles triangle. Minutes stretch out, while the escorts and wings clash around Battlegroup Splinter.

Twenty-eight minutes into the Bukharin's charge, its salvos begin to arrive, to streak past the Titania's wedge-shaped bow.

Six minutes later, the salvos begin to hit. The impacts smash glowing craters into the Armory dreadnought. Field generators flicker and fail, and fireballs blast through internal bays. But the Titania keeps going toward The Wagner.

Battlegroup Eland:
Maneuver: All ahead full!
Move to range: 4
Fire Heavy Kinetic Battery at the Titania: 19 (-1d6 from difficulty, roll: 1) , 18. Deal 5 damage to the Titania
+1 volley counter to the 3x3 Block Short-Spool Cannons. 2 now stored. Weapon is fully charged
Tactic: Lock Firing Solution - target lock the Titania
Shamokin Rising attempts to repel boarders (rolls: 1)
Nikolai Bukharin attempts to repel boarders (rolls: 1)


In the chaos and confusion of the breach, the Purview Marines find themselves overlooked as the Union Battlegroup desperately surges forward to come to the aid of their beleaguered brethren.

That is, until CSO Gbeho notices an airlock failure where there shouldn't have been on.

"S---."

He unleashes a string of curses as he flicks the alarm switches as fast as he can, summoning security teams from the bowels of the ship to the potential boarding point.

The decks are soon ablaze with close-quarters fire.

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Boarding Action by Peyton Gee
 
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Dirtbags

Breaching charges blast through a security door leading into the maintenance cavity beneath the Hannibal's drives. "Come out, dirtbags!" shouts the Rittermeer security chief, leading his platoon of armoured troopers in.

They stop dead in their tracks. The mercs brought a mech. A small one, just taller than powered armour. Boasting powerful stasis tech and the finest engineering in all of pan-Union space.

The Harrison Armory Napoleon.

It sweeps a powerful displacer gun toward the security platoon, fires a devastating blast that incinerates the front rank. Then it raises shields, walling off the drive section from any retaliation.

The Mirrorsmoke marines still control the engine room.

20210913_225719.jpg

Napoleon Art by Tom Parkinson-Morgan

Battlegroup Hannibal:
1) Maneuver: Heavy Kinetic Battery Fire, at Richard Wagner and We Demand Hazard Pay. Roll 11, which misses Richard Wagner, and 7, which misses We Demand Hazard Pay.
2) Albedo Cavalier uses Maneuver: 0 Beam to deal 1 damage to Richard Wagner and adds another heat token to 1 Beam (now 2 tokens).


Attempt to repel Fool's Gold marines: Roll 2, which fails. Those marines can attempt more sabotage during Boarding Step.

On the PCV-DN Hannibal's bridge, Captain Karina Ashanti watches grimly as the ship's batteries fail to land any hits on the Wagner or the mercenary carrier.

Aelita appears on the holographic display beside her. "Sir, we have a situation. Security has finally recaptured drive control."

"So...did we capture any boarders alive?"

"There was no sign of the boarders. We believe they're now moving through maintenance crawlspaces in the lower decks."

"Didn't we have combat subalterns guarding the crawlspaces?"

"They've been destroyed. But there's more. I picked up an Omninet intrusion attempt from inside the ship. An NHP-generated anti-cognitive viral memetic. It's gotten quite far, and we believe several legion nodes in Battlegroup Hannibal are potentially compromised."

"What, how bad is it?"

"I've isolated the infected Legionspace - it affects command and control of the Roy and the Albedo Cavalier. They're unable to act offensively and can't benefit from fleet legion networking in any way."

"Well, dispatch more security! Find the bastards! And how long before you can get our destroyer and mech ace back?"

"We can do it the slow way, which could take up to sixty minutes. Or we can cycle all the Legionspace partitions at once...which would be quick, but potentially painful. I would lose valuable data. Critical systems damage is a major risk."

Aelita displays helpful informatics for Captain Ashanti, all in red and green.

Ashanti purses her lips. "Survivability of the ship is our priority. We can't cycle. We can afford to take hits on our siege plating, but we can't risk the internal damage. Strike Captain Bannon said we have to play for time. The carriers will be here at any moment."

"Understood, Captain."

Boarding Step:

Mirrorsmoke Marines on the Hannibal attempt Deploy Ontological Payload to either disable all installed Legionspace upgrades, or disable all Wings and Escorts in this battlegroup. Roll: 11.

Roughneck Marines on the Nikolai Bukharin attempt Disable Primary Drives, roll 5, failed.
Roughneck Marines on the Shamokin Rising attempt Deploy Ontological Payload, roll 1, failed.

The Union security teams fight off the sabotage attempts. Running gunfights in the carrier hangars! Fun times.


Next: The Metaphor of the Sword
 
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The Sword, Part 1

Watching the chaos unfold around him, Captain Caspian Var stands still and erect, as if turned to stone, watching coldly as his crew frantically updates their targeting plots, as the ships of the Union and Purview fleets swirl around in their deadly dance.

"Sir, the Bukharin has lit up the Titania for us." CGO Bryant says, turning to him, "Just give the order, sir."

He barely nods, scowling at the approaching form of the Titania. "Direct all power to weapons. Begin retrograde burn," Bryant turns to her screen and hits the glowing red "ARE YOU SURE?" button on her her screen.

Immediately, the Wagner shudders violently with an audible groan. Lights blow out throughout the center of the ship, going off like popcorn as the violent energy surge slams through her systems. Within sealed off compartments, sparks fly as massive electric arcs burn through vital systems. On the bridge, the standard lighting goes out, replaced by a dull violet glow of clashing blue battle lights and red warning signs. The crew are flung against their straps as the staggering surge of power momentarily disables the ships' inertial dampners, slamming multiple Gs against her crew for a split second as she powers through her emergency deceleration maneuver.

"Starboard SPK now at 200%. Port SPK is at 150%. Standing by for termination," Bryant reports as the Wagner's massive bulk turns to face the onrushing Titania.

End of last round's actions, Battlegroup Splinter:

Maneuver: Retrograde Burn!
Move back to range: 3
Tactic: Maximum Power!
Starboard SPK is fully charged with 4 overcharge tokens

Richard Wagner takes 4 points of damage

For larger engagements, the GM is advised to bring in each reinforcement NPC battlegroup at the start of the round after an enemy flagship has been eliminated. At the start of the 3rd Round, before Logistics Phase, the Arminius arrives, dropping out of nearlight drive not far from the other Armory flagships.


In a blaze of light, the battlecarrier PCV-GC Arminius arrives from nearlight. Flak guns turn in their casemates, taking aim at the SWIFT AMITY ships. The three-tiered fighter decks spit out Mahler interceptors and Holst bombers by the dozen.

And spewing out from the ventral bays, a rippling drone swarm. Diluvia.

An ALLCOMMS broadcast: "This is Strike Captain Gopalakrishnan of the 2nd Expeditionary Fleet. Your forces are scattered and wounded, and I have more ships of the line coming in behind me. Speaking as the highest-ranked Purview Command officer present, I urge the Union and mercenary forces present to power down their arms. Those who stand down will not be harmed. I am offering your lives...or the sword!"

As the Wagner's energy signature blooms to match that of a small star, Captain Caspian Var turns to the comms and glares. "This is Captain Caspian Var of the of the Union 2nd Crisis Response Group. There will be no standing down today, Strike Captain. Not from us..." his face twists into a snarl, "...nor from you. You had your chance, and you and your commanders chose death." He turns to Bryant;

"Prepare to fire!"


Next: The Wagner's magnum opus
 
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The Sword, Part 2

Round 3.

State of the fleets:


2nd Crisis Response Group (Union Navy)

Battlegroup Eland (Range 4)
Interdiction 1d6+2
UNS-BB Nikolai Bukharin (25 HP), 2 volley tokens on 3x3 Block Short-Spool Cannons, boarding attempts by Tenacity 10 Marines.
UNS-CV Shamokin Rising (16 HP), boarding attempts by Tenacity 10 Marines.

  • 2x Fighter Wing (5 HP, 5 HP)
  • Destroyer Unicorn (6 HP)
  • Destroyer Undine (8 HP)
Battlegroup Splinter (Range 3),
Interdiction: 2d6+2
UNS-BB Richard Wagner (15 HP), 0 charge tokens and 4 overcharge tokens on Spinal Petajoule Kinetic, 1 charge tokens and 1 overcharge token on Spinal Petajoule Kinetic, Lock On. Bolstered.
UNS-LS Björn Járnsiđa (13 HP, 1 OS from Sandstorm). Bolstered.


The Wagner has taken quite a hammering, pretty much all self-inflicted.

Battlegroup Sour Brains (Range 3)
Interdiction: 1d6+2
MSMCS We Demand Hazard Pay (21 HP)

  • 3x Mounted Chassis Wing (1 HP, 3 HP, 3 HP)
  • MSMCS Facefirst (8 HP)
  • MSMCS Fool's Gold (6 HP)
2nd Expeditionary Fleet (Harrison Armory Colonial Legionate)

Battlegroup Hannibal (Gyre Center)
Interdiction: 1d6
PCV-DN Hannibal (Turtleback) (35 HP), Boarded by Tenacity 10 Marines. Deploy Ontological Payload: All Wings and Escorts are disabled until end of next turn.

  • 1x Brothers in Arms (8 HP), 2 charge token on Short-Spool Spinal Guns (1/2 strength)
  • Ace: Albedo Cavalier (8 HP), 2 heat tokens on 1 Beam.
Battlegroup Shaka Zulu (Gyre Center)
PCV-DN Shaka Zulu (Paladin) (-6 HP)

Battlegroup Titania (Gyre Center)
Interdiction: 2d6
PCV-DN Titania (UNKNOWN Man O'War) (35 HP), 2 charge token on Naphoros Omnigun, 2 charge tokens on Demisolar Lance, 1 reloading token on Pulse-Pack Missiles, Lock On.
- 4x Daggerflight (6 HP, 6 HP, 6 HP, 2 HP)

Battlegroup Arminius (Gyre Center)
Interdiction: 1d6+4
PCV-GC Arminius (Mastermind Breakwater) (25 HP)

  • 4x Fighter-Bomber Wing (5 HP, 5 HP, 5 HP, 5 HP)
  • Diluvia (18 HP)

An eerie darkness settles on the Wagner's bridge, both figuratively and literally as her crew silence her alarms, waiting tensely, taut faces highlighted by the dimmed glow of their screens. Her gunnery crew is particularly tense, knowing full well the fate of the battle will literally turn on their efforts in the next few hours. CGO Bryant carefully pushes the last few petajoules of power into the port SPK and runs her team through their final calculations.

The gloom is broken by the sudden flash of the Björn's Harbinger lasers as they reach out and touch the newly arrived Arminius: a harbinger, if you will, of the Wagner's impending wrath.

Battlegroup Splinter:
Remove charge token on the SPK, add one ovrecharge token. Take 1 damage
Harbinger lasers x2 : 4 points of damage on the Arminius


The Titania's missile racks unleash wave after wave of Pulse-Pack Missiles, seeding the area around Battlegroups Splinter and Sour Brains with nuclear mines. If the Union forces try to form a line at this range, they will suffer for it.

Battlegroup Hannibal: Brothers In Arms removes 1 charge token from Short-Spool Spinal Guns.


Battlegroup Titania: Titania removes 1 charge token from Demisolar Lance. Its targeting laser deals 2 damage to Richard Wagner. Titania adds an omnigun charge token to Naphoros Omnigun. Titania removes a Reloading token from Pulse-Pack Missiles, so it's ready to fire. The Titania blankets Range 3 with the Pulse-Pack Missiles (any hostile battlegroup ending their turn there takes 2d6 Area Damage).

The flash is blinding as the massively overcharged starboard SPK unloads its full fury at the charging Titania sending its hyperdense payload at it at barely below the speed of light. The shot slams headlong into the massive battleship, staggering it and tearing a colossal gash in its hull, several hundred meters longer and deeper than the gash that killed the Shaka Zulu.

But the Titania is apparently made of much sterner stuff. Despite the terrific impact, the ship continues to close, its energy signature glowing threateningly as it brings its own weapons to bear.

Then the second shot hits it dead center.

The titanic battleship flies apart as the second supercharged shot plows through it, gutting it like a fish from bow to stern. Ready use pulse-pack missiles cook off, turning sizable chunks of spaceship into tiny chunks of spaceship as the angry expanding cloud of fire and debris consumes its escorting corvettes even as they desperately flee the maelstrom.

SPK1 - Target: Titania Roll: 6 (4,2)
Reroll: 14
Bonus damage: (3, 2, 2, 1)
Total damage: 28

SPK2 - Target: Titania Roll: 6 (6)
Bonus damage: (2,2)
Total damage: 19

Impact step weapons fire simultaneously, so the Titania gets a parting shot with the Omnigun for 3 damage to Björn Járnsiđa. Destroying the Overshield on the Björn actually triggers the Sandstorm Vanguard's ability, dealing a further 3 damage to the Titania, which takes it into a level of destruction that leaves nothing to salvage.


The crew of the Wagner say nothing, watching the carnage with cold calculation. They have, within the span of the last 48 hours accounted for two entire Purview capital ships, but at hideous cost to their own ships' integrity. Everyone knows that. And watching the tactical screen and the barrage now barring the path between the Bukharin and the Wagner, they know that they are still alone. Many are silently cursing the mercy that held their hand against the Titania before. Now it is they who will have to pay the butcher's bill.

Caspian breaks the silence.

"Helm, engines, spool up," he points angrily at the image of the Arminius, "Point us at that spaceborne abomination. Gunnery, Security - prepare to launch everything we have left at that thing. Everyone else collision stations!"

Next: Animals
 

The Sword, Part 3

"We have fast movers heading towards the Arminius," reports Major Mahayhay. "The Titania's surviving corvettes."

It makes sense. With the Hannibal's legionspace nodes corrupted, it can't coordinate any escorts.

"Send our wings to intercept, finish those bastards," says Milch. He knows he's asking a lot from the mech pilots, who have already suffered so much. He puts the thought aside. The Corregidor-built carrier boasts rapid printers that can rebuild and rearm the corvette squadron in mid-battle. They need to be stopped.

The mechs begin their pursuit, diving to trade fire with the Daggerflight. The results are bloody and predictable. Only one corvette escapes.

"Point us at the Hannibal, jam her nav, and send more boarding parties," orders Milch. "How long before our mass accelerators are in range?"

"Fifty minutes, sir."

"Send message to the fleet: 'We're going to engage the Hannibal in CQB. We'll try not to die for fifty-one minutes.'"

Battlegroup Sour Brains:

1) Battlegroup Sour Brains:
1. Maneuver: Legionspace Siren. Sour Brains advances to Range 2. One enemy battlegroup must then choose; either they cannot take or benefit from actions or effects that would move player battlegroups any number of range bands until the end of their next turn or a Capital Ship of your choice in that range band takes 1d6 damage. Target is Battlegroup Hannibal. Captain Ashanti decides it isn't worth the damage.
2. Tactic: Raiding Party - order 2 Wings to perform Marauders (deal 1d3 damage to a hostile Escort or Wing and take that much damage in return). Bernadette Wing attacks the 2 HP Daggerflight corvette, rolls 3, destroys it and dies as well. Laurent Wing attacks a 1 HP Daggerflight corvette, rolls 1 and destroys it while taking 1 damage.

3. Facefirst uses Tactic: First On, Last Off to launch boarding parties at Hannibal.

The Facefirst marines have spent most of the battle in transit. Hours of waiting, riding their boarding pods, sealed in sour-smelling battlesuits, limited to intra-unit chatter with very little info about the rest of the fleet, who's alive and who's dead.

Launching, disembarking and trying to cut into their target ship. Desperate skirmishes with subalterns and security teams, being driven back. Scrambling to reembark on the pods, returning to the Facefirst worn and demoralized.

Short naps and a quick bite and drink. And now, getting ready for another launch. Drug injectors keep their much-abused bodies sharp and active - for now.

The Titania is gone. The Mirrorsmoke marines manage a few ragged cheers at the news, despite the frustration of not being able do contribute much, the pain of losing five landing teams on the Titania.

"We've got our marching orders, straight from the Colonel," announces a marine lieutenant. "We're going to the Hannibal. Keep it locked out of the fight."

"About time, sir!" shouts one of the corporals. "We can't let the animals from Fool's Gold have all the fun!"

They're ready to go it again. Once more into the breach.

Next: All Wings, Attack!
 



The Sword, Part 4

On the Nikolai Bukharin, more reports of the marine battle filter up to the bridge. "Captain, we have the invaders penned up at the main junction in Sector 40, but they still have sections they can retreat to...we'll try to get around them from outside the hull."

Aegis reports that, as feared, the long-range greywash swarm is beginning to reach the Bukharin. "There's risk of systems erosion on the port sectors, Captain."

The incoming strike craft are inside the Wagner's defensive perimeter already. Long-range bombers from the Arminius, and even one remaining corvette from the Titania. The leading missiles are meant to suppress the ship's point-defense systems and shields, opening it up to further damage. But the kilometer-long battleship has already taken so much internal stress, so many power failures, that there's almost nothing to suppress. And the Björn, still effecting damage control operations after the last Omnigun hit, is out of position and not yet able to screen for the Wagner. A hail of bomber-launched ordnance smashes into the Wagner, opening breaches and killing over a hundred crew.

"Losing power in Sectors 13 to 27, no, wait, 31," reports Chief Van Ghent. "Sir, we're losing her."

On ALLCOMMS, Gopalakrishnan speaks in a pitying tone: "You chose the sword, Captain. Die by the sword."

Battlegroup Arminius:

1) Mastermind Tactic: Strategic Insight. Arminius chooses the option: Until the end of your next turn, you or an ally may reroll one attack of your choice, but must keep the second result.
2) Tactic: All Wings, Attack! The Breakwater scrambles two of its Wings and gives them the Bombing Run command. They deal 1d3+1 each to a hostile Capital Ship or Escort. Target: Richard Wagner. D3 rolls are 3 and 2, for a total of 7 damage to the Wagner. Place 2 Reloading tokens on Bombing Run.
3) Tactic: All Wings, Attack! The Breakwater scrambles two of its Wings and gives them the Close Support command. One Wing gives the Hannibal +1 Accuracy to all Single Target attacks on the We Demand Hazard Pay until the end of their next turn. The other Wing gives the Hannibal +1 Accuracy to all Single Target attacks on the Richard Wagner until the end of their next turn.
4) Diluvia uses Tactic: Drone Control. It takes 3 damage and chooses the option: Engulf, apply 3 greywash counters to a hostile Capital Ship within range 4-0. It chooses Nikolai Bukharin.

5) Daggerflight (the last one) uses Maneuver: Battery Fire to deal 2 damage to Richard Wagner.
 

IIRC, The characters have positive and negative attributes. The can use positive ones to get a reroll. These recharge when a negative one is used. How does that work?
 

IIRC, The characters have positive and negative attributes. The can use positive ones to get a reroll. These recharge when a negative one is used. How does that work?
Actually, the positive attributes are used for +1 Accuracy (non-stacking +1d6 to a d20 check, additional Accuracy rerolls the d6), not a reroll of a d20. These are used outside of fleet combat, during free play (like in diplomacy and managing the fleet) or Uptime checks just before a battle.

Players may try to invoke those negative traits for rolls during narrative scenes, which will have their own stakes in the fiction (like whether the players can get the cooperation of an NPC), so they can recharge positive traits in preparation of important Uptime checks, since their lives and their ships can depend on getting advantages from the latter rolls.
 

Okay.

I have a number of earlier space battle rule systems. I suppose I can always use another! The setting is intriguing as well. I am definitely enjoying your battle report / story hour!
 

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