Saturday, January 24, 2009

China Flex Meets His Doom(sday)

I wake up to that lethargic, heavy limbed, 3 bottles of Quafe Ultra feeling that clone jumping always has on me. I'm in Tim Horton's station in Y-2ANO, front line of BoB's attempted territory grab.

To my surprise the nurse is injecting me with something, a moment later I'm clear headed and alert, super humanly alert, she's woken me up with a combat booster. Now that I'm functioning I can hear the klaxons sounding, as I run from the med-bay to the fast tubes leading to the ship docks there are flashing red lights on every corner. As I turn a corner I nearly run right into Monzoomic, a corpmate of mine flying with Aegis Evolution, we run on together and throw ourselves into the droptubes.

Spat out at the other end of the tube I ask Monz what's going on, realising that I'm late for the call up. There's something else going on as well, a dull rhythmic hammering that's as much fleet as heard.

"The fleets have all been pushed back to here China, the POS's are all taking a beating."

We arrive at the bulkhead door leading into the Aegis hangers, the door slides smoothly up and chaos greets us. Our ships are still floating above their launch tubes, but up in the hanger's ceiling fires rage and dozens of fire fighting hoverbots are trying to quell the flames.

Our leader, Amadeus Baal, stands calm amidst the destruction, his blue commander's uniform crisp and clean, I glance down at my own crumpled flight suit and note the wine and food stains from the revelries after a successful sortie last week. LtcSheppard is here as well, methodically checking off our ammunition supplies.

"Right lads, this is all we've got," says Ama. "Warlord is already out with the fleet, as you can see that station has taken considerable damage, the fitting stations are all crippled so you'll have to fly with whatever you have fitted right now. The fleet are going to try and clear the reds from outside the station and create a launch window for us, let's go."

I'm nervous now, even as the warm, slick cocoon of my pod wraps around me and my mind meshes with that of my ship's AI, Smoke And Mirrors greets me in his idiosyncratic travelling showman's style.

-Step right up China, today we have over two hundred friendly ships waiting in fleet for you.-

"Great," I disconnect the docking clamps and the ship seems to fall into the launch tube, rings of accelerators grab the ship and pull it forwards, the end of the tube nears, we fly past and into open space. More chaos.

A dozen or so enemy ships are waiting outside trying to shoot down ships as they launch from the station, but our main fleet has arrived as well and a huge firefight has erupted, beam lasers and cruise missiles flash past, there are explosions everywhere. Thousands of civilians live and work on board Tim Hortons, they must be terrified, the outside of the station has taken a dreadful pounding, huge explosion craters scar its thick armour and reveal docks and interior spaces. There are clouds of debris floating around, and although I try not to notice, I can see a number of corpses with the tell tale red facial foam that denoted death by explosive decompression.

"Rally point RR, rally point RR," that was the Fleet Commander, everyone that has survived the launch turns to align their ships towards the pre-selected point and warps away.

In fleet I feel a tiny bit safer, my stealth bomber looks insignificant when compared to the carriers, battleships and dreadnaughts that swarm around me. I fly off to one side of the fleet and cloak up, aligning the ship towards a second safe spot and wait.

The waiting doesn't last long, the enemy fleet jump into contact range, their fleet is even larger than ours and contains every type of ship, electronic attack ships swarm at the fringes supported by assault craft, support vessels, battleships, interceptors and interdictors. Their own fleet, like ours, will contain a number of cloaked covert ops vessels and stealth bombers.

Orders come through, I warp to another point some distance from the fleet with a group of ships and we cloak up ready to ambush. In the main fleet engagement the lines of lasers and the silent fast moving globes of pulse weapon fire reach our from fleet to fleet, thousands of missiles are burning their way across the void and in response thousands of defender missiles are launched to knock down the incoming weapons.

Then, the enemy fleet seems to ripple, and two vast shapes emerge in their midst. Titans, the largest war vessels ever created by mankind, the ultimate in killing technology. My bomber would look like a fly on an elephant when compared to one of these leviathans.

A point of light spreads out from and engulfs the titans and the enemy fleet, for a second I don't know what I am seeing, but then the panicked shouting comes over the comms.


Oh Lord, we're in real trouble now. The globe of light expands and the enemy fleet vanishes within it,their shields are all pre-tuned to its frequencies and it washes over them harmlessly.

When the light wave touches the front of our fleet it is like the angry breath of God. The smaller ships touched just explode, our outlying frigates, cruisers and cov ops are swept away as if they had never existed. The larger ships take fearful damage, one or two explode, but most are left burning and spinning. Huge capitol ships are pushed aside like leaves and smashed into each other, tumbling and burning.
All the time the enemy continue to pour fire onto us, some of our ships have stopped firing back having switched all their power to repair systems in a desperate attempt to say alive.

Then, almost unbelievably, the second Titan drops its own doomsday device, and a second wall of light rushes at our fleet. This time the damage is almost total, on my scanner the number of fleet ships drops from over two hundred to less than fifty, in the blink of an eye our fleet, and our power base in this system, has been swept away. Only a handful of ships remain in the main fleet, a few super capitols and battleships that now have the concentrated fire of a massive enemy fleet directed against them, and one by one, they too are killed.

The survivors are now in trouble, there are two groups hundreds of kilometres apart, we warp away as fast enemy ships try to reach us and a chilling game of cat and mouse begins. The main station is swarming with enemy ships, as are the gates leading out of the system, we have some POS's in Y-2 but they have also taken a huge battering and are unlikely to last more than a few hours.

The surviving commanders take stock and look at their options, hold tight comes the order, make it to a POS if you can, and then wait. So we wait, the hours stretch out, I try to read for a while, and watch some recorded tv shows, but I can't really concentrate on anything, I'm coming down from the combat boosters and it's making me twitchy and aggravated. There are hundreds of reds in system, and less than fifty blues, we cannot fight, so we wait.

Hours later the reds start to leave en masse, first a trickle, then by dozens. It seems that a large friendly fleet is attacking enemy bases in another system and the reds are flying off to support their own.

"Break out now, clear the warp bubbles from the station and let's get our guys out."

We attack, the enemy ships run from the station and we free another twenty or so ships, but with the fitting stations demolished, some of these guys have no weapons or microwarpdrives fitted. We make dash for the gate and everyone pours fire against the warp bubble that is preventing the gate from functioning.

Somewhere along the line Smoke & Mirrors has taken a hit, and we drop out of warp 20k from the gate just in time to see the last of our ships warping through it, I engage the cloak as a pack of reds arrives, if they put up another bubble now I'm dead. If a ship or drone gets within 2k of me and knocks down my cloak with interference from its drives then I'm dead. Slowly, slowly we approach the gate, drop the cloak and engage the warp, I'm through, run away.

Most of Aegis survived the battle, our leader Ama got caught outside the POS force field and had his ship shot from around him, but he got away. Behind us though, the fleet has been destroyed, and rather than expanding our power base here, it looks like we may lose the toehold we had fought so hard to maintain.

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